According to preliminary reports from both FTR and ACT Research, North American Class 8 net orders exploded in November to the third-highest total ever.
FTR has the preliminary number at 52,600 units, the best performance since August 2018. Orders were +31% month-over-month and almost three times the level of November 2019. Class 8 orders for the past twelve months continue to increase and now stand at 250,000 units.
The volume reflects several large fleets placing their requirement orders for the entirety of 2021 to lock up build slots, which they perceive could be in short supply next year, FTR says. Fleet confidence remains solid entering 2021, as carriers are getting their truck orders in early for next year’s deliveries. Consumer-oriented freight remains vibrant and industrial freight is expected to improve in the coming months. Fleets are placing big orders anticipating needing more trucks throughout next year, FTR says.
“The Class 8 market is trying to rebalance after suffering through woeful order numbers early in the pandemic,” said Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles for FTR. “The huge November orders mean that Q4 will be a fabulous one regardless of what comes in for December, and that portends well for the expected increase in production early next year.”
ACT had the preliminary Class 8 number at 51,900 units. “The pandemic impacted economy continues to play into the hands of trucking,” added Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “With freight rates surging to record levels the past three months and carrier profits certain to follow, orders accelerated in November.”
Regarding the medium-duty market, Vieth said, “There is a symbiotic relationship between heavy-duty freight rates and medium-duty demand. Clearly, the shift in consumer spending from experiences to goods has been good for the providers of local trucking services as e-commerce has grown by leaps and bounds during the pandemic.”