Truck orders soar as carriers lock up 2021 builds

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Updated Dec 6, 2020
Engine Plant – Assembly Line – v2-2020-12-03-07-36
Orders should begin to wind down in the next several months as the large fleets conclude their seasonal ordering.
Orders should begin to wind down in the next several months as the large fleets conclude their seasonal ordering.Orders should begin to wind down in the next several months as the large fleets conclude their seasonal ordering.

North American Class 8 net orders hit the third-highest total on-record last month – 52,600 units according to preliminary data released by FTR Wednesday.

Orders climbed 31% month-over-month and jumped three-fold from November 2019. Heavy truck orders for the past 12 months now stand at 250,000 units.

“The Class 8 market is trying to rebalance after suffering through woeful order numbers early in the pandemic,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “The huge November orders mean that Q4 will be a fabulous one, regardless of what comes in for December and that portends well for the expected increase in production early next year.”

November’s volume spike reflects several large fleets placing their requirement orders for the entirety of 2021 to lock up build slots, which Ake said they perceive could be in short supply next year.

Fleet confidence remains solid entering 2021, as carriers are getting their truck orders in early for next year’s deliveries. Consumer-oriented freight remains vibrant and industrial freight is expected to improve in the coming months. Fleets are placing big orders anticipating needing more trucks throughout next year.

“Fleets are still trying to catch-up with the jump in freight volumes resulting from the economic restart and the generous stimulus money which is being spent predominately on consumer goods and food,” Ake said. “This will only intensify if there is a second round of payouts.”

Orders should begin to wind down in the next several months as the large fleets conclude their seasonal ordering but the November orders are great news for the industry, as they are pumping up the backlog which had dropped to a 3-year low in September. The higher backlog would indicate that the industry will have a stable, positive year in 2021.