Class 8 truck orders hit their lowest monthly level since late 2013 with around 20,000 units ordered for the month according to preliminary reports from ACT Research and FTR.

Orders were down 11% compared with April and 23% down year-over-year. Backlogs, however, remained above last year’s levels, thanks to the ordering blitz which ended last year. Summer is usually the low point of the year for truck orders and despite the decline, analysts were confident in the health of the industry.

“Rather than simply considering orders to be a harbinger of weakness, broader context is required in passing judgment,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT Research’s President and Senior Analyst. “In addition to few build slots remaining open in 2015, this is the time of the year when Class 8 orders typically slow.”  

The Class 8 market will continue to stabilize, believes Don Ake, FTR's vice president of commercial vehicles.  Ake expects orders to hit bottom in July with around 16,000 orders, which he thinks should be enough to maintain production levels for the year.

“The Class 8 market continues to stabilize, and the overall market remains healthy at this point,” said Ake. “However, some individual OEMs may need orders to improve to maintain their build rates.”

Medium-duty orders actually increased in May, hitting 19,000 units for the month. Orders for Class 5-7 vehicles were up 17% year-over-year. . “This was the sixth time in the past nine months that Classes 5-7 orders reached at least 19,000 units,” said ACT's Vieth.