Research firm FTR has raised its 2019 forecast for North American Class 8 truck factory shipments to 350,000 units, for a year-over-year increase of 8%. It has also increased its forecast for U.S. commercial trailer production (not including medium-duty low beds) to 310,000 units, which is just under this year’s expected volume.
FTR pointed out that Class 8 orders set a record during this year’s third quarter-- pushing backlogs almost 7% higher than the previous record. Trailer orders “smashed” the monthly record in September by almost 10,000 units, and backlogs are “barely below” the all-time high.
“We increased our forecasts for 2019 based on our models indicating continued strong freight growth generating robust demand for equipment through Q3 of next year,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles.
“OEM component suppliers have also done a much better job delivering on time, allowing production rates to increase," he added. "If this continues, we expect a record Class 8 build in 2019 for a year not impacted by a pre-buy. Trailers could also set a record, if sales are steady through the end of the year.”
FTR noted that it has not changed its medium duty (Class 4-7) truck forecast, with factory shipments expected to be relatively flat next year.