FTR reports preliminary North American Class 8 orders plunged for the second month in a row to an unprecedented level of 4,000 units. April order activity was the lowest in the modern era (1996), 44% below March, and 73% less than a year ago. Class 8 orders for the last twelve months now total just 160,000 units.
Fleets are delaying ordering trucks until the economic uncertainty over the COVID-19 crisis abates. Fleets also canceled a significant number of orders which were scheduled for near-term deliveries. Orders are expected to rise in May to around 10,000 units. Class 8 order activity after that is highly dependent on the speed and strength of the economic recovery.
Don Ake, vice president commercial vehicles, commented, “Despite all the economic calamity and a significant number of cancellations, Class 8 orders managed to generate a gain in April. OEM production was shut down for most of April, yet order activity endured. There still are a few fleets that need new trucks. We expect retail sales to be somewhat higher than expected in April.”
“The industry received a shock right along with the economy due to the virus response," says Ake. "Fleets will remain extremely cautious going forward, but we expect orders to modestly increase as the freight markets recover. We have already seen some signs of life in refrigerated freight and expect improvement in dry van freight soon. The industry recovery will begin in May, but it will be gradual, just like the overall economy. “