Class 8 orders remained range-bound in March

by Today's Trucking

North America’s Class 8 truck orders totaled 21,300 units in March, according to preliminary data from ACT Research, with Classes 5-7 orders rising to 21,200.

“Long backlogs and supply chain-constrained production activity kept new order activity trending within a narrow range,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “Based on preliminary March inputs, North American Classes 5-8 net orders were up slightly compared to February, and while orders have been moving sideways for most of two quarters, March’s intake was the best since October.”

Mack Trucks assembly
(Photo: Mack Trucks)

Vieth said recent economic news – including freight and rate data – has been less positive of late. However, he also pointed out OEMs only report orders that are expected to be built within 12 months, and the Class 8 backlog-to-build ratio was at 11 months in February.

Vieth added, “Class 8 orders remained range-bound, posting a virtual carbon copy of February’s order intake. With Class 8 backlogs stretching through 2022 and still no clear visibility on the easing of the ‘everything shortage’, March’s net order haul reflects the ongoing conservative approach by the OEMs looking to limit the risk of overbooking and underbuilding that plagued the industry in 2021.”

FTR, meanwhile, reported preliminary North American Class 8 net orders of 21,500 units.

Don Ake, vice-president of commercial vehicles commented, “The March order total reflects a market frozen in place. All the OEMs are evaluating the business environment monthly and only entering enough orders to fill in about a month’s worth of production in the schedule. March’s number indicates that production levels stayed flat.

“This trend began seven months ago and has not varied much. Once supply chain issues improve, OEMs will be able to substantially increase orders. But until then, conditions remain stagnant. Several automakers recently announced computer chip supplies remain tight, but there are still expectations of supply chain improvements in the second half of the year.”

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