Early reports are showing that heavy-duty truck orders likely dropped as much as 12,000 units from March to April, but despite that being the largest single-month decline since 2011, analysts are still calling the market for Class 8 equipment hot.
In its preliminary report for April, FTR estimates April Class 8 truck orders at 34,700 units while ACT Research projects orders at 34,800 units. Those projections are down significantly from March, but only because that month’s order numbers were historically high. For three straight months, Class 8 orders topped 40,000 units. And while April’s numbers look to miss the mark, they are still 50% higher than the same month in 2017.
“In ACT’s 30-plus years of collecting industry statistics, the Class 8 market has never had four consecutive months in which orders exceeded 40,000 units,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT president and senior analyst. “Preliminary data indicate that the wall remains in place as 34,800 Class 8 net orders were booked in April, stopping the latest string of 40k-plus order months at three.”
Demand for trucks is still at record levels as fleets continue to try to add capacity as fast as possible. In the past 12 months, Class 8 truck orders have totaled 368,000 units, according to FTR.
April Class 5-7 medium-duty truck orders remained solid, but were a bit below levels seen through the first three months of the year. Net orders were down 16% compared to March, but they were up 33% year-over-year at 24,800 units.
"These order levels will continue to put pressure on the OEMs and suppliers to increase production and output,” said Jonathan Starks, chief intelligence officer at FTR. “The market will stay red hot into 2019. The question remains: how hot can they run?"
Related: First Quarter 2018 Truck Orders Hit 12-Year High