May truck orders barely crack 10,000 units

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Updated Jun 6, 2019

Heavy truck orders in May hit their lowest point since since July 2016 – and registered the weakest May numbers in a decade – hitting just 10,400 units, according to preliminary numbers from FTR. Orders fell 29 percent from April and are down 71 percent year-over-year.

Class 8 orders for the past 12 months total 360,000 units.

FTR Vice President of Commercial Vehicles Don Ake says May was basically the last period for ordering trucks to be built in 2019, and the low numbers indicate fleets are simply trying to find any build slots left.

“May’s low orders were consistent with it being the last month in this year’s cycle. The 2019 order pattern was pulled ahead by three months, so May’s orders are similar to what you normally would see in August,” he says. “Ordering for 2020 is expected to begin in June, with several OEMs expected to start taking orders for next year.

Ake expects backlogs to fall to around 220,000 – a range where they were a year ago when the fervent ordering for 2019 began.

“OEM build rates remain at robust levels. The economy and freight growth are expected to ease throughout the year, applying some downward pressure on the truck market in the second half,” he says. “Orders for the next couple of months should be a good indicator of fleet confidence about 2020.”

Jason Cannon has written about trucking and transportation for more than a decade and serves as Chief Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. A Class A CDL holder, Jason is a graduate of the Porsche Sport Driving School, an honorary Duckmaster at The Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee, and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Reach him at [email protected]