Class 8 truck orders had a solid month in April, meeting expectations and beating the previous month, according to early numbers from FTR and ACT Research.
While some manufacturers saw modest activity and others were down marginally, at 23,600 units, the Class 8 truck market was up by 4% overall compared to March and up 77% from a year ago.
Fleets are expecting better freight conditions for the second half of 2017, according to FTR, which was reflected in the modest gains in April. FTR expects at least one more month of good order activity before the usual summer break.
“The order pattern continues to track a sustained, normal pattern. In this order cycle, the fleets did not place all the big orders in October and November,” said Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles at FTR. “Some fleets did order at that time, but since then, fleets have placed orders in a more measured, steady fashion as they became more confident about 2017.”
Class 8 orders may beat expectations for the year as industry analysts at Stifel noted in a report. The year -to-date order intake tracks with Stifel’s production outlook, which originally called for a full-year decline of 6%. If order and build numbers are sustained in the back half of the year, Stifel may adjust its production outlook for the year. For now, it is projecting 215,000 Class 8 orders in 2017.
Medium-duty Class 5-7 truck orders fell by 25% in April after hitting a more than nine-year high last month. Orders were down 10% compared to the same month in 2016. Analysts at Stifel noted the decline, but do not believe it is a cause for concern.
“As April tends to be a slightly above average order month, seasonal adjustment lowers the month’s net order volume, which falls to 18,200 units,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT president and senior analyst. “Taking the past two months’ orders together puts the total roughly in line with activity since December: From December to February, medium-duty orders averaged 22,500 units per month. In March and April, the average stands at 21,700 units."