As a record-setting year winds down, November truck orders fell to the lowest total this year as order backlogs catch up with the market, according to the latest data from both ACT Research Co. and FTR.
FTR reports that preliminary North American Class 8 orders for November fell to 27,500, as the market winds down from five consecutive months topping 40,000 units. November orders were the lowest total this year and the weakest since September 2017. However, FTR said that the drop off in order activity was expected, as OEMs have nearly filled their order boards for 2019. Backlogs will start to recede, but still remain close to record volumes.
“It was expected that orders would fall fairly soon, as the available 2019 slots filled up,” said Don Ake, FTR’s vice president of commercial vehicles. “A couple of the OEMs that had some open capacity actually had solid order numbers, while the rest appear to be nearly sold out for next year. This drop in orders was reasonable considering the huge volumes of the last five months, although 27,500 is not that bad of a number. The freight fundamentals remain strong and we still expect the equipment markets to have a great year in 2019.”
“We do expect cancellations to rise in November,” Ake continued. “Not as a result of market weakness, but because backlogs are enormous, and fleets will continue to move orders around as needed. This trend is expected to last well into next year. With OEMs filling up the last available build slots, it is possible that orders may drop below 20,000 in December.”
ACT Research’s preliminary North America Class 8 net order data show the industry booked 27,900 units in November, down 36% sequentially from October, but only 15% lower from year-ago November.
“Through year-to-date November, Class 8 orders have totaled 468,600 units, an average monthly order intake of 42,600 units per month,” said Steve Tam, ACT’s vice president. “November typically has a slightly above-average order seasonal factor, and as such, actual data is moderately lower when seasonally adjusted. Seasonal adjustment drops November’s order intake to 26,800 units, down 29% from October.”
ACT also found that medium-duty Class 5-7 orders came in at 25,100 units for November. Tam noted that this bested both short- and long-run averages for the medium-duty market.