Heavy truck orders hit nearly two-year high

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Updated Oct 6, 2020
Mack RVO 5-2020-10-03-08-07

September order activity for Class 8 trucks rocketed 55% month-over-month and 160% year-over-year in September, according to data released Saturday by FTR, reaching their highest total since October 2018, at 32,000 units.

The Class 5-7 market saw orders at a healthy 26,900 units, according to ACT Research, up 37% month-over-month and 48% versus their year-ago September volume.

FTR Vice President of Commercial Vehicles Don Ake said the Class 8 truck market continues to recover faster and better than expected, and last month’s strong volume suggests fleets believe there will be steady freight growth going forward.

“Rates have improved, so carriers have the cash, and now they also have the confidence,” he said. “When you combine those two factors, orders tend to surge.”

Class 8 net orders for the last 12 months now total 197,000 units. Recent orders, Ake said, are a combination of growing replacement demand and some expansion demand in regions where capacity is tightening. The uncertainty about the pandemic continues to fade, as more sectors of the economy reopen and consumer mobility increases.

“There was considerable pent-up demand in the market, as orders sank in the March to May time period,” he said. “So, trucks that would have normally been ordered then are being ordered now since much of the risk has passed.”

September’s truck order volume is close to August’s trailer orders indicating, Ake said, that fleets took care of their trailer needs first and are now catching up to the truck side in September. Ordering for 2021 deliveries should begin this month, “so the industry has solid momentum going into the fall ordering season,” he added. “This is still a risk-filled environment, with some of that uncertainty having intensified recently. But many fleets are focused on future business prospects and are willing to assume the short-term risks for long-term gains.”