North American Class 8 orders closed the year at 20,000 units in December, according to preliminary data released Monday by ACT Research and FTR.
Orders averaged just fewer than 20,000 units per month for the fourth quarter last year, basically replacement levels as fleets remain cautious and order only what they know is needed for the next few months. FTR Vice President of Commercial Vehicles Don Ake expects order rates to stay in this range for the next few months.
“This is as balanced and stable as you are going to see in Class 8 ordering,” he said. “Fleets are ordering trucks according to their standard replacement cycles and also for normal delivery cycles. They are not speculating about the future direction of the freight market because there is too much uncertainty. This is a wait and see approach.”
Although the December order activity improved 14% month-over-month, it slid 7% year-over-year. Class 8 orders for the past 12 months have totaled 179,000 units.
“The freight market is strong, but growth has stalled. The good fleets are making money, the weak fleets are leaving the industry,” Ake said. “It is a rebalancing environment. Fleets have the funds to replace old units and with a growing economy, they have the confidence to do so. However, the equipment market is in a holding pattern due to economic and political factors. The political uncertainty will only intensify up to the election.”