July truck orders set new all-time high

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North American Class 8 orders reached record levels in July, historically one of weakest order months of the year.

July’s all-time high of 52,250 units surpasses the previous record of 52,194 orders logged in March 2006. To-date, five of the highest 12 order months ever have occurred in the first seven months of this year.

North American Class 8 orders for the past 12 months have totaled 445,000 units. Class 8 orders in July were up 25 percent month-over-month and 187 percent year-over-year.

Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles, says fleets are anxious to get new trucks but supply is limited. Ake says, in essence, there is a truck shortage because numerous parts and component suppliers have not been able to produce and deliver on time.

With build dates being pushed out, and fleets uncertain when they will receive trucks, many are placing a large volume orders in hopes of getting some deliveries at some point in the future.

“The supply chain issues began around March,” Ake adds. “OEM’s started falling behind in deliveries to fleets in April.”

Deliveries improved a bit in June, but Ake says most truck makers are still operating in catch-up mode and are unsure when suppliers will be able to improve delivery times and for OEMs’ to ship all orders on time.

“Realistically it may take up to a year for everyone to catch up,” he says. “This is a unique situation where strong demand is meeting limited supply.  Prices can’t rise enough to alleviate the situation. Therefore, the market is responding by placing an immense number of orders into the backlog. Fleets are reserving places in line, so they can get the maximum number of trucks in the future. It is a bizarre occurrence and it will not be resolved soon.  Conditions may be abnormal, but they are abnormally good.”