FTR Associates on Tuesday, Sept. 6, released preliminary data showing August Class 8 truck total net orders for all major North American OEMs at 20,513, an 11 percent increase over July. Despite the improvement, the numbers remained down at levels not seen since October 2010. Nevertheless, the pace of orders earlier this year was so strong that annualized Class 8 orders for the six-month period including August stands at 299,600 units, a significant improvement from a year ago.
Eric Starks, FTR president, says that although August numbers weren’t spectacular, the fact that they reversed the downward trend seen over the past three months provide an indication that fleet buyers remain in the market for new vehicles. “We were worried that orders might fall given the uncertainty in the economy,” Starks says. “The current level of activity makes me breathe a bit easier and suggests that fleets were not spooked into delaying orders.”
Starks says that going forward, orders primarily will be for 2012 build since the manufacturer order boards basically are full for the remainder of this year. “Builders will not be taking any heroic measures to increase current production rates given the high level of uncertainty in the economy,” he says. “Despite current weakness, we are cautiously optimistic that these build rates will be supportable into 2012. However, if the economy turns sour in a big way, that certainly could change the dynamic, and we are watching that closely.”