ECONOMIC WATCH: Truck orders plummet as Covid-19 impact felt

by Today's Trucking

COLUMBUS, Ind. – Class 8 net orders in March fell 45% to 7,800 units, according to preliminary data from ACT Research.

Orders were down 51% year-over-year, while Classes 5-7 orders of 14,700 units were 36% lower than February and down 31% year-over-year.

“Supply-side restocking on goods from China and demand-side restocking to support the surge in consumer staples actually created a positive, if temporary, inflection in freight rates,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “However, increasingly bad news on the Covid front through the month and manufacturing beginning to shutter at the end of March were a heavy weight on an already over-capacitized industry operating a very young fleet.”

Vieth said March orders were the weakest since February 2010.

Regarding medium-duty activity in March, he noted, “After a reasonably buoyant February, the medium-duty market felt the impact of Covid-19, if with less severe symptoms than Class 8. It is important to remember that March marks the beginning of the peak order season for medium-duty vehicles.”

High-tech robots paint a Kenworth truck cab at the Chillicothe plant.
Class 8 truck orders were down sharply in March, reflecting fears over the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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