Analysts at FTR and ACT Research each released preliminary data showing February 2016 North American Class 8 truck net orders holding fairly steady at between 17,650 and 17,900 units — which is down 2 percent month over month and 43 percent year over year.
FTR said net Class 8 orders are now falling into a much more stable pattern, averaging 21,000 units the last three months and the same average over the last 12 months. Total orders over the last 12 months have been 254,000, close to the FTR 2016 build forecast.
Meanwhile, analysts over at ACT Research said a total of 39,500 Classes 5-8 vehicle orders were booked in February, with 17,900 orders for Class 8 tractors and 21,600 for Classes 5-7 trucks.
“Orders for commercial vehicles in February largely mirrored the ongoing U.S. economic narrative,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “Healthy consumer-related indicators, such as disposable income, autos and houses, continue to support positive medium-duty demand. At the same time, ongoing weakness in the freight-rich manufacturing sector continues to weigh on heavy-duty demand.”
Vieth said February’s Class 8 orders fell 43 percent year over year against a tough February 2015 comparison, adding Class 8 orders were in-line with January — down just 2 percent in a shorter and seasonally weaker order month.
“For medium-duty vehicles, the slow but steady rise in the order trend remained evident in February, with orders rising 9 percent compared to a year ago and 24 percent from January’s tepid intake,” said Vieth.
Meanwhile, Don Ake, FTR’s vice president of commercial vehicles, said, “The order patterns are very consistent with the current market situation. Fleets are basically finished expanding their truck capacity for this cycle. Purchases are now for replacement demand and the average orders and expected build are right at this level.
“We should expect orders to stay in a relatively tight range — around the 18,000 to 20,000 unit mark — for the next several months,” Ake said. “OEMs have made significant production cuts and look to now be right-sized for the order demand. As long as there is some freight growth, the market should be stable for the next several months. Despite recent downturn in Class 8 demand, February backlogs are still expected to be 14 percent higher than two years ago.”