Both ACT Research and FTR are reporting significant increases in September Class 8 truck orders over August as the 2024 order boards open.
ACT Research reports September preliminary North American Class 8 net orders were 36,800 units, a 67% month-over-month increase, reflecting the strongest order month in the past year. FTR reported Class 8 orders for September at 31,200 units, up 94% versus August, according to its numbers.
Both reports are based on preliminary data and will be updated and finalized later.
FTR said that market in September showed a month-over-month increase but a year-over-year decrease. Both were well within expectations, given that build slots have now opened for 2024 production and that the market continues to normalize after last year’s “exceptional” order volumes.
Total Class 8 orders for the previous 12 months have equaled 270,000 units, according to FTR.
Class 8 2024 Production
“Build slots have opened for 2024 production, and fleets are placing orders at a solid pace," said Eric Starks, FTR chairman of the board. "Although a large increase in September was expected due to available build slots, it is still a positive indicator for the industry. We saw increases across the board versus August – another indication that this is a broad-based gain for the market."
Despite the weakness in the overall freight market, fleets continue to be willing to order new equipment, FTR reported.
“We did not anticipate matching the level of orders that we saw this time last year, but increasing orders confirm our expectations of replacement demand in 2024,” added Starks.
Class 8 Backlog
Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst, said nearly all the August-ending Class 8 backlog was scheduled for build in 2023, so strong orders are imperative for the industry to maintain current strong production rates very far into 2024.
“Between reports of falling carrier income and margins, still sloshy load-to-truck ratios, weak spot rates reported by DAT, and a sense over the past six weeks or so that the U.S. economy’s year-to-date outperformance was starting to lose some momentum, we were unsure how the market would respond when the 2024 orderboards officially opened,” said Vieth.
He added, “While it is too early to infer much from September orders, data from the OEMs confirm the ‘season’ started on the right foot.”
Class 5-7 Medium-Duty Truck Orders
ACT Research found Class 5-7 net orders show less of an increase compared to Class 8 orders, rising 13% month-over-month to 23,100 units.