Near-record-setting Class 8 truck orders of nearly 30,000 in July mean the industry is on track to potentially reach 325,000 Class 8 trucks this year, according to preliminary figures from two industry research groups.

Preliminary July 2014 North American Class 8 truck net orders came in at 29,516 units, a tremendous 71% year-over-year increase and the second best July ever, according to industry research firm FTR.

Class 8 orders have now had 18 consecutive months with year-over-year increases. OEMs continue to increase build rates in response to solid demand for Class 8 trucks and this level of orders will challenge capacity constraints by year end.

Class 8 orders for the latest six-month period through July annualize to 325,000 units, FTR says.
“July is typically the weakest month of the year for orders, but the market is actually gaining strength in the summer," said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles.

"This is the third straight month of order increases," Ake said. "Orders for the last 12 months have been 312,000 units, so production should catch up at some point.”

Meanwhile, another trucking research firm, ACT, published preliminary Class 8 net orders just slightly higher at 29,900 units. Orders increased 12% over June, bucking typical seasonal trends which usually fall from June to July.

This also was the highest since January on an unadjusted basis, pointed out Michael Baudendistel with the transportation research group of investment firm Stifel.

“In addition to a continuation of the ongoing strong order trend, some of the non-seasonal strength in July might be related to the rapidly dwindling supply of available build slots in 2014," noted Kenny Vieth, ACT president and senior analyst.

Preliminary net orders of Class 5-7 (medium-duty) trucks totaled 15,500 units, up 3% from the previous month but were down 4% over a year ago.

"Class 5-7 [comparisons] look worse than the Class 8 data because medium-duty orders improved earlier in 2013 and Class 5-7 net orders averaged a very healthy 17,300 from April 2013-November 2013, Baudendistel said.

Updated 8/5/2014, 1:15 EDT, to add comments from Kenny Vieth.