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Truck market data update: Preliminary December numbers positive

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In December, preliminary North America Classes 5-8 net order data from ACT Research Co. shows that the industry booked 42,000 units, bringing the full-year net order tally to 415,600.

“Demand for Class 8 units ended 2016 on a positive note with 21,400 units booked,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “December was the only month in 2016 in which orders rose above 20,000 units. However, after the streak of negative year-over-year order comparisons was snapped in November at 22 months, the year/year comparison turned negative again, with orders falling 24% from last December.”

FTR’s numbers similarly had preliminary Class 8 orders at 21,000 units, up 10% month-over-month.

Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles at FTR, summed up December as “another decent month that met expectations. Orders have been following stable, traditional, patterns for six months now, which is great news after the large drop off in 2016. Production was weak in December, but based on the Q4 orders, it should begin a modest recovery in February.

“The most recent economic news has been positive,” he continued, “so freight demand should keep orders propped up for a few more months. 2017 still looks to be a tough year, but now backlogs are growing and that means the worst should be behind us for now.”

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Medium-duty Classes 5-7 orders climbed to an eight-month high 20,600 units in December, according to ACT’s numbers. “As December is historically the second-strongest order month of the year, seasonal adjustment reduces the month’s orders to 19,000 units,” said Vieth. “For all of 2016, MD orders of 228,500 units were a virtual carbon copy of 2015’s net order intake, giving up 1.1% compared to 2015.”

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