Commercial truck orders remained strong in North America in November, according to reports from two leading industry research firms.

According to ACT Research, 58,500 total Class 5-8 orders were booked in North America last month, up 48% from a year ago.

Over the past twelve months, Class 5-8 net orders have totaled 583,200 units, representing the strongest 12-month period since December 2006.

Class 8 orders alone hit the fifth-best month of all time, notes Kenny Vieth, ACT president and senior analyst, on the heels of October’s second-best performance.

"The 41,000 NA Class 8 net orders in November represent the convergence of a number of trends that continue to drive healthy order activity," Vieth explained. "These include rising economic activity, pent-up demand, strong new equipment fuel economy gains, and most importantly, rising freight rates, which bolster carrier profitability."

FTR's preliminary data showed Class 8 truck net orders at 40,560 units, noting this is the second month in a row above the 40,000 level. 

However, FTR pointed out, November order activity, similar to the previous month, was concentrated at a few truck makers, with the others falling short of October order input.

“The rare back-to-back 40,000 unit months in October and November is a result of fleets placing orders into the middle of 2015 to secure build slots due to tight production capacity," says Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. "Confidence in the economy and positive factors in the trucking sector are motivating fleets to place orders very early in this cycle. Trucking capacity remains tight and fleets continue to need more trucks. Orders may be weaker at the beginning of 2015, since some fleets have half of their expected 2015 requirements already in the backlog."

Class 8 orders have totaled an impressive 363,000 in the last 12-month period, FTR says. 

However, ACT's Vieth said November’s preliminary 17,500 orders in Classes 5-7 was somewhat of a letdown following on the heels of a strong three-month period of order placement.

“November’s medium-duty orders were down 4% compared to last November and fell 22% below October’s strong intake." Year to date, he said, Class 5-7 net orders have been booked at a 218,400 unit annual rate.