After threatening the record number several times this year, Class 8 truck orders in July surpassed the highest number ever recorded for one month, according to both FTR and ACT Research Co.—this in what is typically a slow summer month for orders.
FTR reports that preliminary North American Class 8 orders for July hit an all-time high of 52,250 units, just surpassing the previous record of 52,194 orders in March 2006. Orders were up 25% month-over-month and 187% year-over-year. Orders have been astounding in 2018. Five of the highest twelve order months ever have occurred in the first seven months of this year. North American Class 8 orders for the past twelve months have now totaled 445,000 units.
“The supply chain issues began around March. OEMs started falling behind in deliveries to fleets in April,” Don Ake, FTR’s vice president of commercial vehicles, said. “Deliveries did improve a bit in June, but most OEMs are still operating in catch-up mode. It is uncertain when suppliers will be able to improve delivery times and for OEMs to ship all orders on time. Realistically it may take up to a year for everyone to catch up.
“This is a unique situation where strong demand is meeting limited supply,” he continued. “Prices can’t rise enough to alleviate the situation. Therefore, the market is responding by placing an immense number of orders into the backlog. Fleets are reserving places in line, so they can get the maximum number of trucks in the future. It is a bizarre occurrence and it will not be resolved soon. Conditions may be abnormal, but they are abnormally good.”
Preliminary North America Class 8 net order data from ACT Research Co. shows that the industry booked 52,400 units in July, setting a new all-time record in what is typically the weakest order intake month of the year.
Medium-duty orders, meanwhile, fell in the month. “Medium-duty activity slowed decidedly in July, with preliminary NA Classes 5-7 net orders falling 27% month-over-month, to 19,500 units,” said Steve Tam, ACT’s vice president. “Longer term, however, medium duty activity remained positive, up 18% year-over-year and 22% year-to-date. Seasonal adjustment boosts the Classes 5-7 orders moderately, making it the best showing in the past seven months.”