Truck orders begin to climb as freight volumes improve

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Updated Jul 8, 2020

North American Class 8 net orders last month reached 15,500 units, according to preliminary data released Friday by FTR, cracking the 10,000 unit mark for the first time since February.

June’s tally was up 130% from May and jumped 20% year-over-year. Class 8 net orders for the last 12 months total 158,000 units.

“Preliminary data show that June orders for medium and heavy duty vehicles jumped to a four-month high, rising above the combined April and May order tally,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT Research President and Senior Analyst.

A “slow, steady recovery,” FTR Vice President of Commercial Vehicles Don Ake said, should continue, but a significant increase in order activity is not expected until October when big fleets start placing orders for 2021 delivery.

An economy that is holding its ground and freight markets recovering from pandemic-related restrictions are gradually improving fleet confidence, but Ake noted June’s order volume may not be sustainable in July because some of the larger fleet orders may be difficult to replicate in the short term.  However, he expects order volume to exceed the 10,000-unit mark throughout the summer as freight volumes continue to improve.

“The great thing about the order improvement in June is that it should permit OEMs to continue to produce at a steady, but still reduced rate, for a couple of months,” he said. “However, some of the OEMs need higher order volumes in July to keep the industry moving out of the mire caused by the virus.”