According to the latest numbers from both ACT Research and FTR, Class 8 orders had their weakest month this May since July 2016.
FTR’s preliminary North American Class 8 orders for May were similar, coming in at 10,400 units, or 29% below the slow April activity. This is the lowest volume for Class 8 orders since July 2016 and the weakest month of May since 2009, reflecting a minus 71% y/y comparison, FTR says. Class 8 orders for the past 12 months now total 360,000 units.
May 2019 is basically the final period for ordering trucks to be built in 2019 and the low numbers indicate that fleets are trying to find any scarce build slots left for the year, FTR says. Backlogs should fall to the 220,000 range, just where they were a year ago when the fervent ordering for 2019 began.
Preliminary North America Class 8 net order data shows the industry booked 10,800 units in May, dropping 27% from April, but down a more significant 70% from year-ago May, according to ACT Research.
“Fraying freight market and rate conditions along with a still-large Class 8 order backlog contributed to the worst NA Class 8 net order performance since July of 2016,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “May saw NA Class 8 orders fall below the 15,900 units averaged through the year’s first trimester and year-to-date Class 8 net orders have contracted 64% compared to the first five months of 2018.”
Regarding the medium-duty market, Vieth said, “While the U.S. manufacturing/freight economy has been droopy since late 2018, the medium-duty market continues to benefit from the underlying strength in the consumer economy. In May, NA Classes 5-7 net orders were 19,300 units, down 21% year-over-year and 19% from April. One has to look back 22 months to find a weaker medium-duty order month on an actual basis or just two months when looking at the data on a seasonally adjusted basis.