Truck orders skid for fourth month in a row

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Kenworth truck assembly line
Given how strong orders numbers were to end 2022, a slowdown early in 2023 is not a surprise.

The white-hot new truck order spree that closed 2022 came crashing back to reality in November. 

Orders fell to 21,600 units in January, sliding for the fourth consecutive month after reaching a record high in September 2022. Demand last month was down 25% month-over-month but up 2% year-over-year, according to preliminary data released Friday by FTR. Class 8 orders came in at 303,000 units for the previous 12 months. 

“Given how robust Class 8 orders were into year end, the relative pause in January is not surprising,” said Eric Crawford, ACT Research vice president and senior analyst. “We note that over the final four months of 2022, nearly 159,000 Class 8 net orders were placed, +92% year-over-year, and only 8% below those placed over the same period in 2020. January’s orders represent the first year-over-year decline in five months (August).”

With backlogs already solidifying production slots, FTR Chairman Eric Starks agreed that it's no surprise that orders have fallen off their previous torrential pace.

“Orders remain above replacement demand levels but are below recent production activity. As such, backlogs likely moved slightly lower in January," he added.

In the first half of 2022, orders averaged just shy of 18,000 units per month, suggesting that recent activity is healthy, Crawford said.

"This type of activity by fleets indicates that they are not overly concerned about an economic recession and continue to lock in build slots for the second half of 2023," he added. 

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].