Today’s Pickup: Truck orders approach record highs

 New truck orders jumped in January, reaching their second highest level on record, according to data from FTR and ACT Research.
New truck orders jumped in January, reaching their second highest level on record, according to data from FTR and ACT Research.

Good day,

What few fears there were that the end of 2017 would cause a slowdown in truck orders in 2018 have quickly been dismissed following January’s reports. According to FTR, preliminary North American Class 8 orders were at 47,200 units for the month, up 28% month-over-month and 116% year-over-year, the firm said.

For the past 12 months, orders have totaled 316,000 units.

“Order for heavy duty trucks surged to start 2018,” said Jonathan Starks, COO. “These levels were well above our already strong expectations and continue to indicate that the equipment markets are still reacting to the tight capacity in the truck marketplace. January is normally a seasonally weaker month, except when the market is on a clear upswing.”

Starks said the industry continues to take advantage of high rates and tight capacity and that near-record order levels may not last, but “orders could stay quite elevated throughout the spring.”

ACT Research also reported banner orders, saying that Class 8 orders topped 48,700 units in January. Class 5-8 total net order data found 80,400 units in January, their best performance since March 2006.

“As was the case in the total market, Class 8 orders posted their best volume since March 2006, rising to 48,700 units,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s President and Senior Analyst. “Seasonal adjustment reduces the month’s order largess to 42,400 units, which represents a seasonally adjusted m/m increase of 41% and a 107% y/y increase.”

Class 5-7 orders were up 56% month-over-month and 34% year-over-year at 31,700 units.

According to Vieth, preliminary February orders and OEM build plans suggest a growing backlog of both medium duty and Class 8 vehicles with the MD backlog rising to 66,800 units and the Class 8 backlog jumping to just over 159,000 units. That will mark the highest Class 8 backlog volume since May 2015.

Did you know?

The national average price of retail diesel fuel continues to rise, climbing 1.6 cents last week to $3.086 a gallon. It was up 4.5 cents the previous week.


“[It is] not simply identifying lanes saying that this right lane is for trucks, it is its own separate roadway, and will even have its own exits and entrances.”

John Hibbard, Georgia Department of Transportation Operations Director, on plans to build a truck-only highway

In other news:

Waymo attacks Uber as trade secrets trial begins

Waymo lawyers went on the attack in the opening day of its trade secrets trial against Uber, accusing Uber’s former CEO as being a cheat to try and get ahead. (Wall Street Journal)

Georgia port eyes growth

The Port of Georgia is predicting its container growth could more than double in the next 10 years to 10 million twenty-foot-equivalent units of cargo following a $2.3B investment. (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Self-driving trucks could cut manufacturing costs

A new report from PwC suggests that manufacturers could see a 30% decrease in costs if widespread adoption of self-driving trucks happens. (Advanced Manufacturing)

Georgia plans toll-free truck highway

The Georgia Department of Transportation is waiting on the federal government to approve its plans for a $1.8B, toll-free highway for truckers. (Live Trucking)

Too much data?

Supply chain executives are faced with an abundance of data, but many are struggling to use it all. (Supply Chain Brain)

Final Thoughts

Georgia is hoping to build a 40-mile trucks-only highway in the state. That is a suggestion that others have proposed over the years as a way to speed commerce and reduce accidents through the separation of commercial vehicles from automobiles. Georgia, though, is still waiting on federal approval for its project, but believes it could increase safety.

Hammer down everyone!

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.