North American Class 8 retail sales rose to a six-month high of 21,281 units sold, which brought the full-year sales total to 249,952 units, according to the numbers from ACT Research Co. Set against strengthening orders, seasonal production weakness reduced December build to 14,145 units, leaving the full-year North American Class 8 production tally at 228,347 units. Strong December sales and modest production reduced the industry’s inventory overhang by 6,300 units in December, bringing the full-year inventory correction to nearly 21,000 units. The industry ended 2016 with a 36-month low 44,865 inventory units.
“Going forward, the big inventory pulldown into the end of the year, and the full-year inventory correction, will allow industry production to more closely align itself with demand,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT ‘s president and senior analyst.
Classes 5-7 net orders ended the year on a high note, rising above 20,000 units for only the second time since April. In December, net orders rose to a nine-month high of 22,083 units. “Full-year 2016 saw orders fall 0.7% from 2015 to 229,403 units. School bus and RV orders were up incrementally in 2016, while trucks and step vans saw volumes fall incrementally,” added Vieth.
The consistency in medium-duty vehicle orders the past two years is almost unheard of, according to ACT, and there is little to suggest a change of trend in 2017. “Given that consumer-related medium-duty economic drivers remain largely unchanged, our expectations are for more of the same in terms of medium-duty demand in 2017,” said Vieth.