Truck orders still ‘hot,’ volume could continue into next year, analysts say

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Two organizations that report truck orders have said the latest data indicates that the new truck market is still strong.

ACT Research said its preliminary North America Class 8 net order data show the industry booked 35,600 units in May.

FTR reports that preliminary North American Class 8 orders for May continue to show exceptional strength, coming in at 35,200 units.

“Preliminary net order data indicate that demand for Class 8 trucks continued in robust fashion in May,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “During the month, North American Class 8 net orders rose 2.5 percent from April, and May’s order volume more than doubled the year-ago take, rising 110 percent from last May.

“Seasonal adjustment begins to inflect positively this month. When adjusted, May’s Class 8 net order volume rises to 39,800 units.”

Seasonally adjusted and annualized, Class 8 orders have been booked at a 475,000 unit rate through year-to-date May.

FTR said the 35,200 units represented the third highest May on record.

Orders have averaged morethan 40,000 units for the past six months, volumes never seen before in the industry.

FTR said Class 8 orders exceeded expectations again as fleets order in huge numbers attempting to keep up with burgeoning freight demand. North American Class 8 orders for the past 12 months have now totaled 386,000 units.

“This is the tightest capacity crunch ever. Long-time veterans in this industry are saying this is the best freight market they have ever seen. Fleets cannot add capacity fast enough and as long as the economy and manufacturing are going great, this capacity crisis will continue,” said Don Ake FTR’s vice president of commercial vehicles. “There is a shortage of truck parts and components, so OEMs have been slow to deliver. This just exacerbates an already bad situation. Fleets are now grabbing every available build slot, hoping to get some more trucks by the end of the year. Some orders now are even spilling into the first quarter of next year. It is a red-hot market.”

In a related development, CFI, a North American full-truckload carrier and subsidiary of TFI International Inc., said it has increased its 2018 fleet purchase plan from 500 to 600 new Kenworth T680 over-the-road long-haul tractors. Delivery of the additional 100 tractors is expected by year end.

The additional new tractors represent the latest investment in a two-year modernization program, begun in 2017, that by the end of this year, will have replaced 65 percent of CFI’s North American power fleet with the new Kenworth tractors. CFI operates 1,897 company-owned power units and 7,365 53-foot dry-van trailers, and employs about 350 owner-operators.

“This investment is good news for our customers as well as our professional drivers,” said Greg Orr, CFI’s president. “We are accelerating our program to refresh and modernize our fleet with one of the most advanced power units on the market, which features excellent fuel economy and the latest safety systems.”

Orr noted that drivers will enjoy operating new equipment that has many of the most-requested driver comfort features available, as well as a reputation for reliability, minimizing downtime and maximizing driver miles and pay. For the customer, the new assets support CFI’s mission to provide superior service that is ultimately safe and reliable, consistently delivering shipments on-time, he said.

The company expects to begin taking delivery of the new tractors this summer and will concurrently retire older units as new ones enter the fleet through the end of the year.

 

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