Recent truck orders foretell soft start to ’09

CHICAGO — Heavy-duty truck sales in 2008 fell for the second straight year, to their lowest level since 1992, while Class 8 orders for December were lower than expected.

According to Ward’s Automotive, U.S. Class 8 retail sales for 2008 were 133,473, down nearly 12 percent from the 150,965 sold in 2007. You have to look back to the 119,057 trucks sold in 1992 to find lower numbers.

Class 8 market share figures for 2008 were: Daimler 32 percent, Paccar 25 percent, International 24 percent, Volvo 10 percent and Mack 9 percent.

On the medium-duty side, 48,880 Class 7 trucks were sold, 39,397 Class 6, and 40,300 Class 5 in the U.S. in 2008.

December saw Class 8 retail sales of 12,747, according to Ward’s.

Andrew Obin, Merrill Lynch Machinery Research analyst, noted that net order numbers released by ACT Research saw Class 8 orders fall 60 percent in December compared to a year earlier, down 24 percent from November figures to 8,717 units. That was 3 percent below the preliminary estimate of 9,000 units.

"Build remains at low absolute levels, as companies continue to cut production given the economic downturn," Obin noted.

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