Truck orders continue to soften, but remain healthy

by Today's Trucking

Class 8 truck orders continued to weaken in March at 19,000 units, according to preliminary data from FTR, marking the fifth decline in the last six months.

However, the industry forecaster said orders still met expectations and are at healthy levels, despite sliding 18% from February and 11% year over year. FTR says nearly all 2023 build slots are full, so slower activity was expected and will likely continue through the summer.

orders chart

“With build activity over the last several months hovering near 27,000 units, backlogs likely fell during the month. Given that backlogs are sitting at such high levels, however, it is difficult to ascertain if there is a fundamental weakening in the Class 8 equipment market given order activity levels,” said Eric Starks, FTR’s chairman of the board.

“The incoming order rate for March was 228,000 annualized, right in the sweet spot at replacement demand levels. Overall, the numbers were solid and will have little impact on production levels over the next two quarters. Given the uncertainty in the economy, this is a welcome sign that demand has not collapsed and that fleets still have access to capital.”

ACT Research reported 19,200 Class 8 orders and Classes 5-7 orders of 18,600 units. This matched ACT’s expectations of 15,000-20,000 Class 8 orders per month into the third quarter, according to Eric Crawford, vice-president and senior analyst.

“After coming in stronger than expected last month, seasonally adjusted Class 8 orders fell back within the 15,000-20,000 range, and have averaged 19,500 units year to date,” Crawford said.

He added, “Medium-duty demand declined year over year by double digits for the second consecutive month.”

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