December saw a slight rise in the number of net orders for Class 8 trucks in North America.
Net orders for Class 8 trucks rose slightly in December. (Photo by Jim Park)
Net orders for Class 8 trucks rose slightly in December. (Photo by Jim Park)
Though the official numbers won't be released until mid-January, both ACT Research and FTR Associates, providers of industry data, analysis and forecasting, reported preliminary numbers that were higher than expected.

ACT reported that the final number will approach 31,100 units while FTR's preliminary data reaches 29,777 units. Preliminary net order numbers are usually accurate to within 5% of the actual figures.

FTR reported that the number of Class 8 orders for December was up 46% month over month. Class 8 orders for October, November and December annualize to 312,000 units, while the six-month annualized order rate of 280,000 units.

"The rebound in orders to finish 2011 reaffirms our confidence that new truck demand will not wane in 2012," said Jonathan Starks, FTR's director of transportation analysis. FTR is predicting modest growth over 2011, but does expect to see orders ease late in the first quarter as trucking operations prepare for the start of the freight season.

ACT also reported that the net order for Class 5-7 trucks in December is 13,000 units.

Corrected Jan. 6, 10:10 EST: Fourth-quarter Class 8 orders work out to an annualized 312,000 units, not a quarterly total.