Class 8 truck orders in August set another all-time record

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The two organizations that report on commercial vehicle sales in North America both reported all-time record highs in preliminary data released Thursday.

ACT Research of Columbus, Indiana, reported that the industry booked 53,100 units in August.

FTR of Bloomington, Indiana, 52,400 units booked, surpassing last month’s total by 300 orders.

“Preliminary data indicate that during the month of August, North American Class 8 orders rose 0.9 percent month-over-month and 150 percent from August 2017,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “Super-strong orders in June and July are likely pulling large fleet orders ahead in the schedule, as truckers race to reserve build slots in a market where demand is running well above capacity.”

Orders from June to August were booked at a 700,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate, Vieth said.

FTR said Class 8 orders were again exceptionally strong in the U.S. market with most OEM’s racking up great order months.

Orders were even month-over-month and up 153 percent year-over-year.

Orders continue their hot streak in 2018, according to Don Ake, FTR’s vice president of commercial vehicles, who said six of the top 12 order months ever have occurred in the first eight months of 2018 with North American Class 8 orders for the past 12 months now totaling 477,000 units.

Ake said carriers continue to scramble to get enough trucks on the road to handle the robust freight growth.

The surging economy and vibrant manufacturing sector are stretching the logistics system to the limit, he said, adding that in some markets, goods are moving slower because of supply chain gridlocks, necessitating even more trucks to deliver goods.

“The good news is, it appears the supplier shortage issues that significantly slowed production earlier this year, have been largely abated for now,” Ake said. “However, the supply chain remains tight, and fleets and dealers continue to place large orders to lock down build slots in 2019. Fleets are ordering early and often and orders this plentiful indicate fleets are highly confident the flourishing freight market will persist for a while. Current economic and manufacturing data point to a strong start to 2019. FTR does expect some easing to occur in the second half of next year.”

The record order data only compounds the backlog for OEMs with the current build rate meaning trucks order in August won’t be produced until as late as the second quarter of 2019. “While we don’t know the answer to current build levels, the answer has to be ‘higher,” Vieth told The Trucker. “The challenge is for the OEMs to get the entire supply-chain to ramp up as high and as fast as possible to make sure they are not leaving their customers without the equipment they want to buy. Given current rates of unemployment, the supply-chain’s ability to ‘easily’ push production higher is constrained by their ability to find quality workers.”

Final August order numbers will be available later in September.

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