Truck orders ring in the new year at over 40K units

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Updated Feb 4, 2021
Line of parked semi trucks
Freight growth has pushed fleets to add capacity as fast as possible and OEMs and suppliers are wrestling to keep pace with the surging demand.

North American Class 8 net orders for January reached 42,800 units in January, according to preliminary data released Tuesday by FTR – the fourth consecutive month heavy truck orders have exceed 40,000 units.

January orders dropped 18% from December but rocketed 144% year-over-year. Orders for the last 12 months total 308,000 trucks.

"When the vaccine enables employment to increase and the other bottlenecks are removed, this will end up being a robust year for Class 8 sales." Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles for FTR

Freight growth has pushed fleets to add capacity as fast as possible and OEMs and suppliers are wrestling to keep pace with surging demand.

"Currently there are shortages of raw materials and component parts, which will result in supply being unable to meet the demand of Class 8 trucks in the short-term," said Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles for FTR. "Class 8 suppliers are working diligently to ramp up production but are hindered by the pandemic and material shortages."

Making matters worse, steel plants took longer than expected to fire back up post-shutdown, and Ake said imported parts deliveries are being delayed at ports for up to two weeks.

"The supply chain is struggling after the surge in demand following the economic restart," he said. "Now companies are having problems hiring back enough workers due to virus concerns and protocols. Demand for Class 8 trucks is surging, but the supply chain is hindered.” 

Supply chain challenges, Ake said, will likely limit first-quarter production "and will probably run over into part of Q2," he said. "When the vaccine enables employment to increase and the other bottlenecks are removed, this will end up being a robust year for Class 8 sales. Our industry is very skilled and experienced in dealing with roadblocks. It will handle this situation better than other sectors."

Classes 5-7 demand hit 25,300 units, according to ACT Research, sliding 28% sequentially but up 26% compared to last January.