According to preliminary reports released this week by industry analysts at FTR and ACT Research, net orders of Class 8 trucks “exploded” in November, reaching the third-highest levels ever. Both agencies will release final numbers for November later this month.
FTR’s report places November net orders at 52,600 units — up 31% month over month and nearly three times the level of Nov. 2019. The report also noted that Class 8 orders for the past 12 months continue to increase and currently stand at 250,000 units.
ACT Research’s report reflects slightly more modest numbers with Class 8 net orders standing at 51,900 units for November — still up a healthy 33% from October 2020, and a whopping 197% improvement from November 2019.
FTR attributes the increase in orders to a number of large fleets placing requirement orders for all of 2021 to build up lock slots, which carriers believe could be in short supply next year. However, FTR predicts orders to drop in the next few months as fleets conclude seasonal orders.
“The Class 8 market is trying to rebalance after suffering through woeful order numbers early in the pandemic. The huge November orders mean that Q4 will be a fabulous one, regardless of what comes in for December and that portends well for the expected increase in production early next year,” said Don Ake, FTR’s vice president of commercial vehicles.
“Fleets are still trying to catch-up with the jump in freight volumes resulting from the economic restart and the generous stimulus money which is being spent predominately on consumer goods and food,” he added. “This will only intensify if there is a second round of payouts.”
ACT Research’s report includes data for the heavy- and medium-duty commercial markets, with indicators differentiated by Class 5, Classes 6-7 chassis and Class 8 trucks and tractors. The Class 8 market is segmented into trucks and tractors, with and without sleeper cabs.
“The pandemic impacted economy continues to play into the hands of trucking,” noted Kenny Vieth, ACT Research’s president and senior analyst. “With freight rates surging to record levels the past three months and carrier profits certain to follow, orders accelerated in November. Preliminarily, North American Class 8 net orders rose to the third highest level in history, proving once again our favorite commercial vehicle demand axiom: When carriers make money, they buy, or at least order, trucks.”