ACT Research: Weak freight fundamentals and declining demand warrant caution ahead

ACT Research: Weak freight fundamentals and declining demand warrant caution ahead

With the 2024 order season opening in September, the Class 8 backlog increased by 8,700 units from August to 161,300 units, and the backlog-to-build ratio increased to 5.5 months, according to the latest numbers from ACT Research.

“Order season for 2024 kicks off with mixed conditions across the various Classes 5-8 vehicle end-markets,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “Considerable pent-up demand remains in many vocational markets. Addressing that pent-up demand has become more challenging as the UAW strike impacts MD and HD vehicle production. But Class 8 tractor demand looks markedly softer, consistent with weak freight markets and rates.

“Class 8 began the order season with net orders of 36,974 units in September,” he added. “While a strong start to ‘the season,’ orders were down 31% year-over-year. While September marked a good start in filling 2024 orderboards, the follow-through over the next few months will ultimately be more telling for 2024 demand levels. Current weak freight fundamentals and largely sated pent-up tractor market demand make the case for caution.”

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