According to preliminary numbers from FTR, Class 8 net orders for March came in at 22,800 units, slightly above FTR’s expectations and much higher than a year ago for the third consecutive month. March orders were basically flat month-over-month and up 41% year-over-year. Backlogs are now close to where they were a year ago, and production rates are expected by FTR to increase significantly beginning with March totals. FTR forecasts orders staying close to this level through May, similar in trend to 2013.
“March orders are reflective of a more normal Class 8 market in a moderate, freight-driven upcycle,” said Don Ake, FTR’s vice president of commercial vehicles. “Replacement cycles are now getting back into a more traditional pattern. This reflects growing fleet confidence as they see freight growth returning after a difficult 2016. OEMs are ramping up production in response. There is renewed optimism in the industry.
“This is a reserved, contained market upswing. It means it is easier for the OEMs to increase builds gradually and prices don’t fluctuate as much. It provides some market stability. It is good for the industry, and a good sign for the economy in the second half of the year.”