While April orders of Class 8 trucks showed a decline from March, the preliminary figures are still well ahead of April 2020, according to analysts at ACT Research and FTR.
According to ACT’s State of the Industry: Classes 5-8 Vehicles monthly report, preliminary North American Class 8 net orders for April totaled 33,500 units. That figure is down 16% from March, but a whopping 689% higher than April of last year’s COVID-stricken intake.
“For the past several months, we have been counting down the remaining open Class 8 build slots in 2021. For that exercise, we use three numbers — year-to-date Class 8 build, the Class 8 backlog analysis from ACT’s State of the Industry report, and a materials-shortage-constrained 2021 forecast,” said Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst at ACT. “We start with that preamble to highlight that it is not a surprise that Class 8 orders fell to their lowest level since September and that the decline was strictly driven by the supply of open build slots in 2021, rather than a change in new equipment demand.”
Analysts at FTR reported 34,600 preliminary North American Class 8 net orders for April, noting the figures reflected the best April order activity since 2018. Even so, FTR reported a 15% month-over-month decrease from March to April 2021. FTR figures showed a 15% percent drop from March to April but noted the number of trucks ordered were still 30,500 units above April 2020.
According to FTR, freight growth remains sturdy, and fleets anticipate needing additional trucks to expand capacity throughout 2021. The supply of new trucks remains restrained due to supply chain delays, therefore carriers continue to order at healthy rates to secure new equipment by year’s end.
“Fleets see the need for more trucks extending out the entire year. Orders remain elevated, as carriers evaluate their needs in Q4. This indicates they expect freight conditions to continue along at healthy levels right into 2022,” said Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles for FTR. “The supply chain is stressed right now, limiting the number of new trucks that can be produced. With orders continuing at this pace, it is possible that the supply chain will not be able to catch up with the fantastic truck demand for months.”
Ake pointed to the negative challenges faced by the industry in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We came through that surprisingly well under the circumstances. This year we have a whole new set of challenges,” he noted. “It’s almost as if conditions are too good. But the people in the commercial vehicle industry are working extremely hard to catch up with the tremendous demand.”
Final data for April Class 8 orders will be released by separately by ACT and FTR later this month.
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