FTR reports preliminary North American Class 8 net orders surged in September to the highest total since October 2018, hitting 32,000 units. September order activity was up 55% month over month and 160% year over year. Class 8 net orders for the last 12 months now total 197,000 units.
Fleets have renewed confidence, and the stronger than expected economic and freight recovery is spurring equipment orders. The orders are a combination of growing replacement demand and some expansion demand in those regions where capacity is tightening. The uncertainty about the pandemic continues to fade, as more sectors of the economy reopen and consumer mobility increases.
Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles for FTR commented, “The Class 8 truck market continues to recover faster and better than expected. This strong order volume suggests fleets believe there will be steady freight growth going forward. Rates have improved, so carriers have the cash, and now they also have the confidence. When you combine those two factors, orders tend to surge.
“There was considerable pent-up demand in the market, as orders sank in the March to May time period. So, trucks that would have normally been ordered then, are being ordered now, since much of the risk has passed. The order volume is very close to August’s trailer orders; therefore, it appears that the fleets took care of their trailer needs first, and then caught up to the truck side in September. Ordering for 2021 deliveries will begin in earnest this month, so the industry has solid momentum going into the fall ordering season.
"This is still a risk-filled environment, with some of that uncertainty having intensified recently," notes Ake. "But many fleets are focused on future business prospects and are willing to assume the short-term risks for long-term gains.”
Final data for September will be available from FTR later in the month as part of its North American Commercial Truck & Trailer Outlook service.