Class 8 pre-buy clears for ‘no-buy’ period

COLUMBUS, Ind. — It was a pre-buy after all. Albeit a very short-lived one.

After taking a small step forward in October, net orders for heavy-duty Class 8 commercial vehicles fell sharply by 50 percent to 10,550 units in November.

According to ACT Research, October’s boost was definitely inflated by a pre-buy in response to the upcoming EPA emissions mandate.

The commercial vehicle market analysts indicated that if you disregard October numbers, November Class 8 net orders were consistent with the past six months, and down 7 percent year-over-year.

Medium-duty Classes 5-7 net orders were also down following a surge in October, but were up 40 percent from November of 2008.

"October’s surge in heavy-duty truck orders had little staying power, as the strong orders filled most of the remaining pre-EPA2010 emission mandate build slots," said Kenny Vieth, partner and senior analyst with ACT.

"Medium-duty orders, while down from October, continued to be relatively strong. We assume much of the strength in the medium-duty segment is related to body-builders booking pre-mandate chassis so that they will have more cheaply priced units to sell through 2010." 

A combination of weak freight market conditions and skepticism over new, far more expensive engines lead industry analysts to predict sales to fall off a cliff for the first quarter of 2010, at least.

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