The two companies that collect and analyze North American Class 8 truck orders both report preliminary numbers for October were strong, but one noted that year-over-year comparisons would be narrower now that previous months.
ACT Research reported that the industry booked 43,600 units in September, up 1.9 percent sequentially from September, but only 21 percent for the same month last year.
That compares wo recent year-over-gains such as the 181 percent recorded in July.
FTR reported preliminary North American Class 8 orders for October at 43,000 units, surpassing 40,000 units for a record eighth month in a row. October 2018 orders were the 10th best ever; 2 percent above a strong September and 19 percent better than a year ago.
“October marks the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the current cyclical surge for Class 8 orders, making year-over-year comparisons narrow appreciably,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “Through year-to-date October, Class 8 orders totaled 440,700 units. In the 12 months ending October, a 12-month record 510,900 units have been booked. In 2018, October had the third strongest order seasonal factor. As such, actual data receives a substantial haircut when seasonally adjusted. On that basis, October’s order intake drops to 37,800 units, down 26 percent from September.”
FTR noted that fleets continue to order a record number of trucks to secure remaining build slots in 2019, adding that freight volumes are now expected to be healthy well into the second half of 2019, keeping capacity utilization at extremely tight levels for an extended period. FTR reported North American Class 8 orders for the past 12 months have now totaled 504,000 units.
“October is traditionally the start of the next year’s order season, so to see strong numbers now is not surprising,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “But ordering for 2019 began in July with back-to-back record months. For orders to still be this hefty in October after that is remarkable.
“Fleets want to make sure they have access to new trucks, as the growing economy continues to stretch capacity. They continue to place a record number of orders to ensure they will have the trucks needed if freight levels keep growing. Months exceeding 40,000 Class 8 trucks had been a rare occurrence, only happening five times before 2018. However, October is the eighth month of forty-plus orders this year. Activity may start to fall off soon, as available build slots in 2019 diminish.”
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