Class 8 truck orders soared in January to their highest level since 2006, according to early reports from transportation analysts at ACT Research and FTR.
The final numbers will be tallied in a few weeks, but FTR has placed Class 8 truck orders at 47,200 units for the month. This represents an increase of 28% compared to another banner month in December and over 116% better than January 2017.
“These levels were well above our already strong expectations and continue to indicate that the equipment markets are still reacting to the tight capacity in the truck marketplace,” said Jonathan Starks, chief operating officer for FTR. “January is normally a seasonally weaker month, except when the market is on a clear upswing. Near-record levels can't last for long, but orders could stay quite elevated throughout the spring.”
Medium-duty Class 5-7 truck orders also showed strong orders, with January's 31,700 units the third best month of orders since July 2006, according to ACT Research.
Analysts at Stifel Transportation are projecting Class 8 truck orders at over 300,000 units for the year. However, Stifel also noted that when Class 8 truck orders exceed 300,000 units in a year, that usually represents the end of a cycle for buying. When this limit was breached in 1999, 2006 and 2015, the market declined at least 30% for the following two years.
“Given the step-up in orders, we are increasing our 2018-2019 estimates,” Stifel stated in its transportation equipment update. “We continue to believe the industry will remain strong in 2019, though 2018 may be difficult to top.”