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Backlogs to blame for slowdown in Class 8 orders


COLUMBUS, Ind. – Demand for heavy trucks remains strong despite a slowdown in orders, according to ACT Research.

Three drivers include: the fact the freight rate markdown is from record levels; the addition of new technologies that improve fuel economy that weren’t available three to four years ago; and an increased demand for drop-and-hook operations to keep drivers and freight moving. ACT reported its findings in its Commercial Vehicle Dealer Digest.

“Preliminary December Class 8 data marked slowing orders, but that slowing must be viewed in the context of near-record backlogs,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “With Class 8 and trailer backlogs out more than 10 months, the fleets who are normally in the market this time of year have already placed their orders in the rush to get into the queue that began mid-year.”

Vieth added, “While the supply-demand balance for fleets is softening at the margins, demand for heavy commercial vehicles remains strong, and upside production pressures in the first half of 2019 are considerable, given those big backlogs. Additionally, slower freight growth, an easing of driver supply constraints, the resumption of the long-run productivity trend, and strong Class 8 tractor fleet growth are expected to increasingly pressure rates and by extension, trucker profits in 2019.”

Kenny Vieth


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