ECONOMIC WATCH: Truck orders plunge as fleet uncertainty rises

by Today's Trucking

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Orders for Class 8 trucks fell sharply in February to a total of 14,100 units, according to preliminary data from FTR.

That marked an “unexpected” 20% drop from January orders, marked the lowest order activity for a February since 2010, and was down 18% year-over-year. FTR said fleets were already being cautious with equipment purchases, and their uncertainty was boosted by the arrival of the coronavirus.

Orders were already right at replacement levels for four months, FTR reported, but now they seem ready to put off replacing older trucks due to current uncertainty.

“This is not good news for the trucking industry or the economy. It appears fleets have decided to delay some orders until the health crisis has passed. There is no pressure for fleets to order more trucks since most carriers have enough capacity to handle current freight volumes,” said Don Ake, vice-president, commercial vehicles with FTR.

“The market was already in a wait-and-see mode before the virus spread. Now, fleets are just waiting for things to calm down before returning to normal ordering patterns. The industry was already taking a pause after two years of great sales. The current uncertainty has just made more fleets leery of taking on additional risks.”

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