OEMs are content to book orders a month at a time, just under current production rates, and keep total backlogs in check.
Class 8 net orders in March were between about 21,300 and 21,500 units, according to ACT Research and FTR reports, respectively. That’s about a 3% increase month over month, and down 47% year over year.
Class 8 truck orders are expected to hover around this range until OEMs have confidence in improved future supply chain performance, FTR officials sad in a press release.
Demand for new trucks remains robust but production has been significantly restricted by shortages of semiconductors and other components. Labor shortages at the OEMs and suppliers also remain an issue, FTR officials said.
“The March order total reflects a market frozen in place,” Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles for FTR said.
March’s number indicates that production levels stayed flat, he added.
“This trend began seven months ago and has not varied much,” Ake said. “Once supply chain issues improve, OEMs will be able to substantially increase orders. But until then, conditions remain stagnant. Several automakers recently announced computer chip supplies remain tight, but there are still expectations of supply chain improvements in the second half of the year.”
Backlog-to-build ratios are essentially double normalized levels,” explained said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s President and Senior Analyst.
“Class 8 orders remained range-bound, posting a virtual carbon copy of February’s order intake,” Vieth added. “With Class 8 backlogs stretching through 2022 and still no clear visibility on the easing of the everything shortage, March’s net order haul reflects the ongoing conservative approach by the OEMs looking to limit the risk of overbooking and underbuilding that plagued the industry in 2021.”
Class 8 orders have totaled 300,000 units over the last twelve months.