Editor’s Note: Updates with FTR preliminary estimates and comment; additional ACT data
Preliminary Class 8 truck orders totaled just 6,700 in May as heavy-duty truck manufacturers kept production suspensions in place while helping reduce an overhang of trucks in dealer inventories, according to ACT Research.
FTR Transportation Intelligence reported 6,600 new orders in May, 61% higher than April but down 37% year over year.
“It is difficult for fleets to plan for future equipment needs under these highly abnormal conditions,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “Carriers are more worried about what’s happening today, about their manpower needs and short-term issues, than ordering trucks.
FTR said 155,000 trucks were ordered in the last 12 months.
The inventory-to-sales ratio remained more than 50% higher than desired levels even as dealer stocks fell by 11,900 trucks in April, Kenny Vieth, ACT Research president and senior analyst, told FreightWaves.
ACT projects 152,000 retail sales of Class 8 trucks in North America in 2020, but the production of about 117,000. That would result in reducing inventories by 35,000 units.
“Restarting the manufacturing sector from a full stop was only partly successful, as Mexico’s lockdowns remained in effect well after the U.S. began to reopen, resulting in challenging supply-chain dynamics and fragmented supplier sourcing,” Vieth said
The interruptions caused Daimler Trucks North America, the industry’s leading manufacturer, to delay the full reopening of its U.S. and Mexico plants from mid-May until this week.