CCJ’s Indicators rounds up the latest reports on trucking business indicators on rates, freight, equipment, the economy and more.
Preliminary data released by FTR Tuesday suggests North American Class 8 truck net orders dropped to their lowest level since September 2012 in March – the third consecutive month for underwhelming orders.
FTR says 15,800 units were placed on order last month, 12 percent below February and down 37 percent from March of last year. March 2016 was the weakest month of March for heavy truck orders since 2010.
“Orders were slightly below expectations as the market continues its downward slide,” says Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles at FTR. “Fleets are being very cautious in the current uncertain economic environment.”
A manufacturing recession has slowed freight and fleets have found they have sufficient trucks to meet current demand.
“Some fleets are also delaying replacing older units until conditions improve,” Ake adds. “There are very few dealer stock orders, since inventories are sufficient and OEM lead times are short.”
Indicators: Trucking drops another 2,400 jobs in March
Trucking employment once again bucked the trend of the overall economy in March, with total industry employment declining by a few thousand jobs.
Class 8 orders have now totaled 245,000 over the past 12 months and FTR says they are expected to remain under 20,000 units for “the next few months” as the market bottoms out.
“OEM’s continue to reduce production rates in response to an expected 26 percent drop in build this year,” Ake says. “Inventories remain high and retail sales have moderated, so order rates should remain subdued in the short-term. Manufacturing is expected to improve soon and this is expected to increase freight levels and stabilize truck demand.”