Two new reports show the number of heavy and medium-duty truck orders in March were solid.

The freight forecast firm FTR says preliminary data indicates March 2014 North American Class 8 truck net orders at 27,139, the fourth consecutive month of solid order activity. Commercial vehicle data provider ACT Research is forecasting they will hit 27,400, plus or minus 5%, when actual numbers are released later this month.

“This is a great order total for the month of March. The market is maintaining strength and confirms we are in a solid growth cycle," said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. "OEMs are expected to increase build rates in response to their growing backlog."

In fact, at the Mid-America Trucking Show recently, Daimler Trucks North America said it already had ramped up production and Volvo Trucks said it was doing so as well.

December 2013 through March 2014 is the best four-month period since 2006, according to FTR, which notes the past 14 months have each shown a year-over-year improvement, with totals for the first quarter of 2014 at 35% above the first quarter of 2013. Class 8 orders over the last six months have seen activity reach 337,000 units on an annualized rate and continue to meet positive expectations.

“Class 8 orders in March represented the lowest intake since November,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst, “But March was also the sixth best order month since early 2006, up 24% compared to a year ago. Typically a strong month, seasonal adjustment drops March orders to 26,100 units for a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 314,000. In the first quarter Class 8 net orders were booked at a 353,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate.”

Meantime, ACT Research predicts North American Class 5 through Class 7 net orders will show a total of 17,600 for March, plus or minus 5%.

“Like Class 8, Classes 5 through 7, net orders rose compared to March 2013, but slipped sequentially,” said Vieth. “That volume represents a 7% decline from February’s cycle-to-date high and a 15% improvement from last March.”

He said consistency continues to be part of the medium duty vehicle order story, noting over the past three, six, and 12 months, orders have been booked at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 209,000, 206,000 and 204,000 units, respectively."