Class 8 Truck orders for January and February of 2019 were the lowest for a two-month period since October-November 2016, according to a preliminary report from FTR.

Heavy-duty truck orders are expected to come in at 16,700 units for the month of February, down 5% from a disappointing January and 58% compared to February 2018. The reason for the subdued numbers is in line with what industry analysts have been saying since late 2018, OEMs are booked solid as they work to fill the record number of orders made last year.

Several OEMs are booked up for 2019 and are offering limited sales slots for the remainder of the year. Orders are likely to remain in this depressed range until 2020, according to FTR.

“Fleets that need to order trucks are looking for any available open build slot, regardless of brand,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “Specifying is also more difficult as the supply chain for parts and components stays tight. Production continues at high rates, as OEMs build those record orders that were placed in 2018.”

With weaker orders, backlogs are expected to fall for the second straight month but remain at historically high levels. Class 8 truck orders for the past 12 months have totaled 429,000 units.

“The freight market started off the year strong and carriers have still been able to hire enough drivers to expand their fleets. Trucking capacity is not in the chaotic state it was in 2018, but business remains vibrant,” said Ake. “Some moderation in freight growth is expected in the second half of the year and this should loosen things up a bit.”

ACT Research also released a preliminary report for Class 5-7 medium duty truck orders, which outpaced their larger cousins in February.  Class 5-7 truck orders increased 9.3% month-to-month to 25,200 units, showing that this segment of the industry is remaining on trend.

 “On a year-over-year basis, medium duty orders fell 5% from last February against a tough year-ago comparison,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “Seasonal adjustment reduced February’s volume, making it identical to January, as well as to the order trend that started in the second half of 2018.”

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