Orders, Purchases for New and Used Trucking Equipment Down

COLUMBUS, IN — Demand for new and used trucking equipment slowed in April, according to new reports from commercial vehicle data provider ACT Research.

Net orders for new Class 8 trucks in North America fell to a 17-month low of 22,400 units while Class 5 through Class 7 posted 17,700 new orders.

“These are numbers that would be close to an average monthly reading in an expanding economy, but the current context is that the prior six months’ net orders run-rate was 400,000 on an annualized basis and some correction from these unsustainable levels was inevitable,” said Jim Meil, principal, industry analysis.

He described the medium-duty market in April as satisfactory, but not stellar, breaking a string of four consecutive months of year-over-year increases.

“There was also a tough comp at work, with April 2014 being the second strongest orders month of the year, seasonally adjusted, which probably says more about the strength of the base period than about current weakness,” Meil said.

Meantime, a second report shows net trailer orders during April in the U.S. totaled 18,000 units, a 22% decline from March.

“The fact that net orders are down year-over-year for the third consecutive month will likely cause much conversation, and perhaps even concern for some,” said Frank Maly, director, commercial vehicle transportation analysis and research at ACT. “While there is no escaping that fact, one must consider the context of the recent over under-performance.”

Maly noted that the tremendous surge in orders experienced from September to January was front-loaded as large fleets, and their investment commitments pulled the seasonal cycle forward in a race to get orders placed to ensure timely deliveries.

“Our view that 2015 will be the best trailer market since the late 1990s remains unchanged,” he said.

The third report shows total reported volumes of used Class 8 trucks sales in the U.S. were 2,806 units in April, virtually unchanged month-over-month, but up 1 % year-to-date.

“The strength came solely on the backs of retail dealers, who added 5% month-over-month,” said Steve Tam, vice president, commercial vehicle sector with ACT. “Auctions and wholesale transactions both sagged, losing 16% and 8%, respectively.”

He said equivalent miles and a slight reduction in age were all that were needed to resurrect price appreciation, which faltered in March, yet rose 2% month-over-month to a new record of US$49,800 in April.

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