Preliminary data shows January Class 8 truck total net orders of 24,906 units for all major North American OEM's, according to FTR Associates.

January orders were down 17% month-over-month from December, and they were 9% lower than January 2011. Although current orders show negative comparisons, the January activity is similar to that reported during the past six months. At close to 25,000 units, the activity remains in positive territory.

"January's orders were firmly within our expectations," says Jonathan Starks, FTR's director of transportation analysis. "We continue to expect strong order activity as we finish the first quarter in preparation for the modestly robust freight environment that we anticipate for 2012.

"The three-month annualized rate of 300,000 orders is slightly above our current 2012 production outlook but well below the highs seen back in 2005 and 2006. Back then we peaked at an annualized order rate of over 550,000 units and production hit 372,000 vehicles. The vehicle markets have rebounded strongly the past two years but are well below their pre-recession peaks."