Class 8 truck orders for April are expected to come in between about 23,000 and 23,300, which is higher than last year and marks the fifth month in a row orders have been above 20,000, according to two leading trucking number-crunchers.

FTR Associates' preliminary data shows April Class 8 truck net orders at 23,026, 6% above March numbers. Orders for Class 8 trucks have now been above 20,000 for five consecutive months with April orders 37% improved from a year ago. Even with the one-month dip in March orders, the last three months annualize to 270,400 units, FTR points out.

April’s Class 8 preliminary net orders were up sequentially and year over year. April was the third consecutive month of positive year-over-year comparisons.
"Orders continue to remain at a healthy level, coming in at the high end of our expectations," said Jonathan Starks, FTR’s director of transportation analysis. "This bodes well for a continuation of the modest growth in equipment sales during 2013.

"Despite this, our optimism is tempered by the weakness seen in much of the economic data over the last month and by our discussions with fleets," Starks says. "There is no desire to add equipment in the near-term and merely replacing equipment doesn't create additional equipment demand beyond our current expectations."

ACT Research says North American Class 8 preliminary net orders of 23,300 represent a continuation of the narrow order trend that has been in place since last October. Over those seven months, orders have fallen no lower than 20,100 units and no higher than April’s expected 23,300 units.

In similar fashion, ACT says, Classes 5-7 preliminary net orders of 15,800 are in line with the three-month order trend. "While April’s Classes 5-7 volume was down from year-ago levels, the 3-month order average is running slightly ahead of the year-ago comparison,”said Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst, ACT Research.