New truck orders remain below replacement levels, used inventories climbing

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Updated Sep 12, 2023

Class 8 orders for August came in at 15,400 units, according to preliminary data released by FTR. August's total was up 16% from July but down 26% year-over-year when orders began to spike and continued through Thanksgiving. 

Kenny Vieth, ACT Research President and Senior Analyst noted that as represented by seasonal factors, the industry remains at that time of the year when expectations for order activity are low, as most of the current year’s orders have been booked and out-year build plans are only starting to open,.

“For Class 8, August is the last month of weak order season, the four-month period that begins in May. Adding to downward pressure, the 2023 build plan has been essentially filled since the end of Q1," he said. 

The August level of order activity continues to be below replacement levels, and total Class 8 orders for the previous 12 months have equaled 294,000 units.  

 "As build slots start to open for 2024 production, fleets are starting to place orders on the books. However, much of the ordering for 2024 has yet to be seen and typically will not show up until September or October," said FTR Chairman Eric Starks. "Despite rising order activity, the year-over-year comparisons will look horrible through November due to record order activity in the second half of 2022." 

The actual unit order levels will be more significant in the near term than the year-over-year change in analyzing the strength of the market, Starks said. Even though order activity is still below replacement demand, a key takeaway from the August data is that fleets are not shying away from ordering new equipment, "which is a good sign for the second half of the year," Starks said.

Plenty to choose from in the used market

Rises in used truck and trailer inventories – a trend that expected to continue – has pushed pricing down.

Inventory level increases paused in August for used heavy-duty trucks, according to Sandhills, but an upward trend remains and is expected to continue.

Asking and auction values maintained a skid that began early 2022, with sleeper trucks falling at a faster pace than day cabs in August. Asking values fell 3.72% month to month and 20.93% year over year following consecutive months of decreases.

Auction values declined 2.43% month-over-month and 28.57% year-over-year, also following consecutive months of decreases.

Used semitrailer inventory levels were up 3.55% from July and 59.96% year-over-year after several months of increases, with the dry van and reefer semitrailer categories leading the way, according to Sandhills.

A downward trend continued for both asking and auction values, with dry van semitrailers exhibiting the most significant month-over-month value decreases in August. Asking values were up 0.05% month-over-month and down 23.41% year-over-year in August.

Auction values fell 2.87% month-over-month and 27.22% year-over-year following months of decreases.