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Preliminary data from ACT Research, FTR show 32% drop in Class 8 orders for May

Preliminary data from ACT Research, FTR show 32% drop in Class 8 orders for May
Preliminary figures from both ACT Research and FTR show slips in orders of new Class 8 trucks in May, but orders are returning to a pace more in line with seasonal trends.

COLUMBUS, Ind., and BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — According to analysts at ACT Research and FTR, preliminary figures for May show a 32% drop in Class 8 order for May 2021.

According to data from ACT, Preliminary North American Class 8 net orders for May totaled 22,900 units, down 32% from April — but 242% higher than May 2020. Demand for Classes 5-7, with orders at 24,800 units, slipped 14% from April. Analysts at FTR reported that preliminary North American Class 8 net orders cooled off in May to 23,600 units.

“As we have been tracking for several months, medium- and heavy-duty backlogs for the remainder of 2021 were essentially filled with April’s orders,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “With 2022 order books not yet opened, it is not particularly surprising that orders for both segments fell to levels last seen in August 2020. We reiterate that the order pullback aligns with expectations, driven by the supply of open build slots in 2021, rather than demand for equipment.”

FTR reports that Class 8 orders are returning to a pace more in line with seasonal trends. May orders were down 32% month over month but still up 16,800 units year over year from the anemic level of May 2020. Class 8 orders now total 420,000 units for the previous 12 months.

“Most fleets have ordered all the trucks they need for 2021,” said Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles for FTR. “They are getting frustrated because production is unable to keep up with demand. Carriers need more trucks on the road now, but semiconductor and other component shortages continue to restrict production.”

The drop-off in May does not represent a weakening of demand, as freight growth continues to be robust and spot rates are hitting all-time highs. Build slots for delivery this year are filling up, and OEMs are not yet booking for 2022.

“There is tremendous pent-up demand being generated in this market,” Ake said. “Freight is growing at a brisk pace, but the supply chain bottlenecks slow the flow of new trucks coming off the production line. This, in turn, is keeping the spot market overheated.”

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