North American Truck Orders Post April Decline

COLUMBUS and BLOOMINGTON, IN — Orders for new heavy-duty and medium-duty trucks in North America both hit the skids a little bit, but it’s no cause for alarm.

During April, 39,700 Class 5 through Class 8 truck orders were booked, down 6% compared the April 2014, according to preliminary numbers from the commercial vehicle industry data provider ACT Research.

Actual numbers will be published in mid-May.

“While the order volume represents a fairly sharp deceleration from the 50,000 units-plus order months experienced from October to February, the pullback is a reflection of already large backlogs as well as a paucity of build slots remaining in 2015,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT president and senior analyst. “This month’s net orders were not a surprise, considering that the calendar is moving away from peak order season.”

North American Class 8 orders posted their lowest monthly net order volume since November 2013 at 22,400 units, down 10% year over year, according to ACT.

“Rather than simply a harbinger of weakness, the slower order intake should be taken in a broader context,” said Vieth. “In addition to few build slots remaining open, there was some pulling forward of orders by truckers from October through February to ensure product and build timing availability.”

Also, North American medium-duty truck orders fell to 17,300 units, down 21% year-over-year.

“This was the lowest order intake since last July, but not out of line with several other months in the interim,” said Vieth.

Meantime, a separate, preliminary report from the freight transportation forecasting firm FTR shows a similar drop with North American Class 8 truck net orders at 22,076 units, an 11% month-over-month decline and 10% lower than a year ago.

“The additional order drop off in April reflects market stabilization returning to traditional seasonal trends, with Class 8 orders now totaling 373,000 units over the last 12 months,” FTR said in a news release. “It is expected that order rates will continue to fall throughout the summer months.”

It said order numbers met its expectations and were in line with its order and production forecasts.

The Class 8 market is now back to an equilibrium state, but at a strong level, according to FTR, and continues the trend from March with nothing expected in the short term to impact overall 2015 business activity.   

“We expect the order numbers and backlog level to continue to fall throughout the summer,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “However, backlogs are so high that production rates are supported all the way into the third quarter. May’s orders could even dip below 20,000, but that is not a problem for 2015 as long as near-term production slots fill up. The April numbers were predictable, and it would appear that the market volatility has ended for this cycle.”


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