ECONOMIC WATCH: May Class 8 orders remained subdued

by Today's Trucking

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Preliminary data from FTR and ACT Research point to May Class 8 orders of 6,600 and 6,700 units respectively, marking continued subdued activity from fleets.

May orders were down 37% year-over-year, according to FTR, as fleets remain reluctant to place orders. It projects orders to increase modestly as economic activity resumes and freight activity picks up.

(Chart: FTR)

“Most of the country still had some severe restraints in place for part of May. It is difficult for fleets to plan for future equipment needs under these highly abnormal conditions,” noted Don Ake, vice-president, commercial vehicles with FTR. “Carriers are more worried about what’s happening today, about their manpower needs and short-term issues, than ordering trucks. The concern about the pandemic goes beyond just the business and economic anxieties and greatly diminishes fleet confidence.

“The economy has entered the restart phase and May was the transition month to get us from shutdown to renewal. Expect Class 8 orders to rise gradually, as caution wanes and fleet buyers begin to focus on the second half of the year and equipment requirements.”

Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst, said “Reflecting the state of the broader economy, there was little to cheer about in May’s industry order activity. Considering Covid-related lockdowns across the U.S. and North America at the start of the month, and a slow reopening occurring through May in most areas, it was not an exercise building customer confidence.”

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