Transmission: Can Class 8 truck producers keep up with demand?

In March, Class 8 truck demand up 103% year-over-year

There was good news and some questionable news over the weekend. The good news can be summed by the trucking industry deciding it needed more vehicles last month, pushing up sales 108% year-over-year. There was another sale, though, that could generate more questions from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which is investigating former Nikola CEO Trevor Milton. He sold 3.5 million of his Nikola shares for $49 million six months after he resigned in a cloud of controversy.

Read all about it below!

Inside today’s edition:

  • Trevor Milton sells shares of Nikola, still holds the title of largest shareholder
  • Class 8 truck demand in March up 103% year-over-year
  • FreightWaves’ Enterprise Summit on WEDNESDAY

Nikola founder sells 3.5M shares for $49M

Last week the former executive chairman and founder of Nikola, Trevor Milton, sold 3.5 million shares for about $49 million. He is still the company’s largest shareholder with 20.1% shares outstanding. 

On Thursday, Nikola stock closed at $13.91, making his share worth about $1.1 billion.

Nikola is planning on selling new shares within the next 18 months as a South Korean solar panel maker, Hanwha, looks to sell about half of its 22.1 million shares, leading to an offering of about 391.5 million shares.

Milton voluntarily resigned in September after short seller Hindenburg Research claimed he misrepresented Nikola’s battery and truck capabilities. 

“We have gathered extensive evidence — including recorded phone calls, text messages, private emails and behind-the-scenes photographs,” Hindenburg said in the statement. “We have never seen this level of deception at a public company, especially of this size.”

Due to these allegations, General Motors ended talks of taking an equity stake in the company in November.

Nikola has spent more than $27 million defending Milton and itself and has become transparent about Milton’s past inaccuracies, described in its recent quarterly filing with the SEC.

“We hope that by putting it out there in plain language, people can put it in its place and we can move on,” CEO Mark Russell said in a recent FreightWaves interview.

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Class 8 orders remain strong in March

In the recent ACT Research report, demand for new Class 8 trucks continued to rise in March by about 40,000 orders. Orders were up 422% from last March, a month consisting of many manufacturer shutdowns due to the pandemic.

Demand for these Class 8 trucks has not reached these levels since 2018, when tariffs and reshoring discussions, along with tightened capacity, ran March orders up about 46,300 units.

ORDERS.CL8 index, seasonality mode (Photo: SONAR FREIGHTWAVES)

There continue to be concerns about when these new orders will be prepared, as many truck manufacturers continue to deal with semiconductor shortages.   

“With orders remaining hot through February reporting from ACT, backlogs and backlog-to-build ratios continuing to rise, and new vehicle inventories tight, the problem isn’t demand, but supply,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst, in the release.

Daimler recently announced rolling downtime at two medium-duty plants, as many trucks in production need as many as 17 chipsets per truck.

Fortunately, strong demand for consumer goods continues to drive a positive outlook for carriers looking to add new trucks to their fleets.

FreightWaves’ Enterprise Summit on WEDNESDAY

Come along for the ride, Transmission members!

Enterprise trucking fleets exist in an increasingly competitive landscape but also have more opportunities than ever before. As many fleets are adopting progressive technology strategies, FreightWaves will examine the components of a successful enterprise fleet. 

Looking back, what were the most successful strategies to manage the 2020 volatility? Looking forward, what will the enterprise fleet landscape look like in future years? 

This full-day virtual summit will tackle the most pressing issues facing enterprise fleets today and the strategies to grow your fleet, your network, your customer base and your profit margins. 

Industry speakers will include:

  • Sam Abidi, head of business development for Embark Trucks.
  • Russ Elliot, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Melton Truck Lines.
  • Laura Roan Hays, branch manager at Great Dane.
  • John Paape, chief information officer at Roehl Transport. 
  • Alexander Stevenson, vice president of product management at Samsara.

Click here to register for this FREE event!

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The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes Roehl Transport (No. 54) and Melton Truck Lines (No. 72).

Grace Sharkey

Grace is an entrepreneur and former supply chain executive who has held positions in sales, operations, and consulting. She is passionate about the future of the industry and how technology can improve the experience for all supply chain members. She believes supply chain is the one industry that affects every human directly, and is looking forward to creating content that mirrors that sentiment. If you have a story to share, please contact me at