North American Class 8 net orders came in around 42,800 units in September, falling 19 percent from August’s 53,069 units, according to preliminary data released by ACT Research. These numbers are an estimate, and final order numbers will be released mid-October.
While last month’s order numbers paled in comparison to August’s numbers, they were still strong, up 90 percent from September 2017. In fact, when seasonally adjusted, the last three months represent the strongest order months in history, according to ACT Research President and Senior Analyst Kenny Vieth.
“Through year-to-date September, Class 8 orders have totaled 397,200 units, an average monthly order intake of 44,100 units per month,” he said. “On a seasonally adjusted basis, the past three months’ orders represent the three strongest order months in history, with the past three months’ Class 8 orders climbing to 711,000 units SAAR. Reaching back to June, on a seasonally adjusted basis the past four months are four of the five strongest in history.”
August was not only a record-breaking August, it also broke an all-time order record, coming in just over July’s briefly held record of 52,629 units. If September’s final tally comes in over 40,000 units, it will mark the seventh time in nine months NA Class 8 net orders topped 40,000 units.
“Strength in demand for heavy trucks reflects the intersection of truckers’ ability and willingness to invest in their fleets. On the ability side of the ledger, 2018 and 2019 are projected to be the two strongest years in history for carrier profitability. In terms of willingness to buy, trucks being sold today are providing tremendous value even when compared to equipment purchased just a few short years ago,” Vieth said. “The value that today’s trucks are bringing to market include significantly better MPG, available safety technologies, and automated transmissions that make it easier to recruit new drivers.”
FTR reported similar preliminary numbers, estimating September saw 42,300 units ordered. That would put the third quarter of 2018 at 146,800 orders with adjusting seasonally, an all-time record.
September comes in at the 10th best month ever, but it is only the 5th best month of 2018. Steady freight growth is continuing to strain capacity and fleets are placing orders to secure availability of trucks in 2019, according to an FTR media release.
“The pressure is on fleets to add capacity to keep up with a robust freight market. The economy is surging right now, putting stress on shippers to find trucks to deliver goods on time. Fleets don’t want to be stuck in the same situation next year, so they are placing huge orders for trucks well ahead of time,” Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles said. “The focus now turns to the supply chain. Parts and component suppliers have struggled to keep pace with the growing OEM builds this year. Demand, as indicated by the surge in orders, will be even stronger next year. It is uncertain if suppliers can meet this challenge, as they compete for workers and materials in a vibrant economy.”
FTR estimates that NA Class 8 orders have totaled 497,000 units for the past 12 months.