Class 8 truck orders remained strong in January, with preliminary numbers from ACT Research and FTR coming in at around 35,000 units. The number is higher than January 2014 but falls below 40,000 units for the first time in three months.

“January’s Class 8 order intake of 35,400 units appears pedestrian,” said Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst at ACT. “However, while October-December represent the three strongest months cycle-to-date, January orders tilt the scale at a respectable fifth best.”

These preliminary numbers indicate the strongest activity for January since 2006, with orders falling back into more traditional patterns and most OEMs continuing strong order momentum, says FTR.

“Even though orders were their lowest in the last four months, the market remains very robust,” said Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles at FTR. "Fleets are now trying to determine their requirements for the entire year and then place orders accordingly.”

With limited build slots available, fleets are having to be strategic with their buying decisions, but the numbers in January still align with FTR’s expectations, added Ake.

Preliminary data for the medium-duty segment also indicate a strong month for truck orders, but once again fall below the record numbers seen at the end of 2014, according to data from ACT Research. There were 17,800 units ordered, representing an 11% increase compared with last January but down 22% from December.

“Similar to Class 8, January’s medium-duty orders don’t live up to the strong Q4 pace, but rise above year-ago activity,” said Vieth. “January’s medium-duty orders fell slightly below build expectations suggesting that backlogs are likely to be 1,00 to 2,000 units lower when the complete data set is compiled.”