Preliminary January numbers show Class 8 vehicle total net orders for all major North American OEMs at 7,608 units, down 12 percent from December 2008
and the weakest January in the 30 years this data has been recorded, reports transportation research and forecasting firm FTR Associates.

The figure includes U.S., Canada, Mexico and exports. January 2009 Class 8 vehicle net order activity is 66 percent lower than January 2008 and equals an annualized rate of 91,296 units, which would be a significant shortfall over 2008. Annualized order rate over the past three months at 109,992 Class 8 units is marginally better but still lackluster. Final data for January 2009 will be available from FTR later in the month.

Meanwhile, Andrew Obin of Merrill Lynch Machinery Research commented on preliminary January statistics from ACT Research for North American Heavy (Class 8) and Medium (Class 5-7) truck net orders.

"Preliminary net orders of 7.8K for Class 8 trucks came in moderately below December figures," Obin said, "due to the overall industrial downturn and in line with the near-term cuts in truck production. Medium class orders continued to decrease on a sequential basis, reflecting the economic recessionary conditions. Current expectations for February net orders are the same or lower, but with very limited visibility over the next several weeks."