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Strong truck order numbers continue in October

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Truck orders continued a record-setting year with another strong month in October, according to preliminary data from both FTR and ACT Research Co.

FTR reports preliminary North American Class 8 orders for October at 43,000 units, surpassing 40,000 units for a record eighth month in a row. October 2018 orders were the 10th best ever; 2% above a strong September and 19% better than a year ago. Fleets continue to order a record number of trucks to secure remaining build slots in 2019. Freight volumes are now expected to be healthy well into the second half of 2019, keeping capacity utilization at extremely tight levels for an extended period. North American Class 8 orders for the past twelve months have now totaled 504,000 units.

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“October is traditionally the start of the next year’s order season, so to see strong numbers now is not surprising,” said Don Ake, FTR’s vice president of commercial vehicles. “But ordering for 2019 began in July with back-to-back record months. For orders to still be this hefty in October after that is remarkable. Months exceeding 40,000 Class 8 trucks had been a rare occurrence, only happening five times before 2018. However, October is the eighth month of forty-plus orders this year. Activity may start to fall off soon, as available build slots in 2019 diminish.”

ACT Research Co. found preliminary North America Class 8 net order data at 43,600 units in October, up 1.9% sequentially from September, but only 21% from year-ago October, compared to recent year-over-year gains such as the 181% recorded in July.

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“October marks the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the current cyclical surge for Class 8 orders, making year-over-year comparisons narrow appreciably,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “Through year-to-date October, Class 8 orders totaled 440,700 units. In the twelve months ending October, a 12-month record 510,900 units have been booked. In 2018, October had the third strongest order seasonal factor. As such, actual data receives a substantial haircut when seasonally adjusted. On that basis, October’s order intake drops to 37,800 units, down 26% from September.”

As for medium-duty orders, ACT reported Classes 5-7 net orders as being up 19% year-over-year, but down 4.9% month-over-month.

“October is typically a strong month for medium-duty orders, so season adjustment drops the month’s intake to an 11-month low 22.1k units.” said Vieth.

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