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‘The market is pausing to take a breather’—Class 8 orders down month-over-month

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According to the latest preliminary numbers from FTR and ACT Research, January’s Class 8 orders were down somewhat compared to last month, but up compared to the previous January.

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FTR has preliminary North American Class 8 orders for January at 17,700 units, following a consistent trend over the last four months when orders have averaged 19,000 trucks. The January total, -10% month-over-month and +12% year-over-year, suggests that fleets are ordering only the equipment they are sure they need in the short term, according to FTR. FTR expects Class 8 orders to remain in this narrow range through the first quarter of the year. Class 8 orders for the past 12 months have now totaled 181,000 units.
 
“The Class 8 market remains in equilibrium with orders well matched to production, stuck at close to replacement demand levels,” said Don Ake, FTR’s vice president of commercial vehicles. “Fleets remain profitable and are continuing to replace older units according to planned cycles. The smaller fleets are being more cautious because revenue is declining from the previous years.
 
“The freight market is still sluggish, but it has plateaued at a high level. The market is pausing to take a breather after a couple of banner years and the equipment market is stagnant as a result,” he added. “Even though the trade deals have reduced the amount of economic uncertainty, the upcoming election is restricting business investment both inside and outside the industry.”

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ACT Research found that preliminary North American Class 8 net orders in January were 17,700 units, down 12% from December, but up 10% from last January.

“Weak freight market and rate conditions, as well as the residual backlog cushion, continue to bedevil new Class 8 order activity,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “Notably, January’s year-over-year result is the first positive Class 8 order comparison in 15 months, and while actual orders in January were below the Q4 average, they were more closely aligned on a seasonally adjusted basis.”

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