Photo: Tom Berg

Photo: Tom Berg

Class 8 truck net orders are projected to realize a significant increase in December, according to preliminary numbers from FTR and ACT Research.

FTR had forecasted an increase in the last month of 2016 and based on early numbers, December will see a 10% gain over November. The solid order activity is in line with demand from the last two months, showing an upward trend in the Class 8 market.

Month-to-month orders in the fourth quarter were very stable when discounting the higher cancellations in October, according to FTR. Class 8 backlogs are expected to increase significantly in the month as well, which will give the market momentum heading into 2017.

“Another decent month that met expectations. Orders have been following stable, traditional, patterns for six months now, which is great news after the large drop-off in 2016,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “Production was weak in December, but based on the Q4 orders, it should begin a modest recovery in February.”

Despite gains, order activity was still 24% below December, according to ACT Research. Net orders were at around 164,000 units for the year, but production was aided by a large backlog at the beginning of 2016.

“The most recent economic news has been positive, so freight demand should keep orders propped up for a few more months,” said Ake.  “2017 still looks to be a tough year, but now backlogs are growing and that means the worst should be behind us for now.”

Medium-duty Class 5-7 orders hit an eight-month high in December, according to preliminary numbers from ACT Research. The analysis firm is projecting 20,600 units for the month. Combining medium- and heavy-duty orders for the year, ACT expects the full year tally to reach 415,600 units.

“As December is historically the second-strongest order month of the year, seasonal adjustment reduces the month’s orders to 19,000 units,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT president and senior analyst. “For all of 2016, MD orders of 228,500 units were a virtual carbon-copy of 2015’s net order intake, giving up 1.1% compared to 2015.”