Preliminary market report for April shows COVID-19’s negative affect on truck sales deepening

Class 8 tractor
Class 8 tractor

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Preliminary North American Class 8 net orders in April fell to 4,100 units, down 46% from March and 72% lower than an easy year-ago comparison, according to information released May 5 by ACT Research. Complete industry data for April, including final order numbers, will be published in mid-May.

“April represents the first full month of COVID-19 impacts on the trucking industry, and given broadly halted economic output leading to a sharp drop in freight volumes and rates, as well as more empty miles from fragmented supply chains further impacting carriers’ profitability, a negative order number was within the realm of possibilities,” said Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst for ACT Research.

“We suspect that, as was the case in March, instead of canceling, order holders are content to move orders from close-in to later build dates, as they analyze the ongoing COVID impact,” he said. “From a seasonal perspective, April is a relative neutral Class 8 order month, and as such, seasonal adjustments adds little to actual data. On that basis, April was the weakest Class 8 order month since September of 1995, which actually produced a negative net order number.”

ACT’s State of the Industry: Classes 5-8 Vehicles report provides a monthly look at the current production, sales and general state of the on-road heavy- and medium-duty commercial-vehicle markets in North America. It differentiates market indicators by Class 5, Classes 6-7 chassis, and Class 8 trucks and tractors, detailing activity-related measures such as backlog, build, inventory, new orders, cancellations, net orders and retail sales. Additionally, Class 5 and Classes 6-7 are segmented by trucks, buses, RVs, and step van configurations. The Class 8 market is segmented into trucks and tractors, with and without sleeper cabs. The report includes a six-month industry build plan, a backlog timing analysis, historical data from 1996 to the present in spreadsheet format, and more. A first look at preliminary net orders is also published in conjunction with the report.

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