Fleets surveyed by CK Commercial Vehicle Research were increasing their planned order activity for power units in the coming three months, while planned trailer orders slowed. Freight demand, while slipping somewhat, is still solid at most fleets, according to the Q4 Fleet Sentiment Report, but it's still solid at most fleets.

The driver shortage is definitely limiting growth, according to the researchers, with few fleets adding capacity -- but there are still few parked vehicles.

In the fourth quarter, the survey added a question about trade cycles, finding that they are not as determined by strict miles and age criteria as they have been in the past.

Plans from this group to place new orders for power units in the next three months indicate strong order activity, both from the number of participants who plan to purchase power units and the overall number of units expected. In fact, 62% of respondents indicated they would be placing orders in the next three months which is well above the responses from July. This could mean orders for Nov/Dec/Jan will be better than the slow pace of Jul/Aug/Sept.

Almost half of those who dont have immediate plans to place power unit orders do plan to place orders, likely in the first quarter of 2013.

"We have been asking specifically about Navistars decision to add SCR technology to their engines and whether this has had an effect on brand decisions," the researchers note. "In fact, it has for some historic International fleets- but not necessarily to move away from Navistar although one fleet has told us they will.

"Now what we see as a change is that fleets are going to adopt the Cummins engine being available in International trucks; until that announcement was made there seemed to be much more trouble ahead for International based on the comments we were getting prior to the announcement."