Trucking news: ACT reports April Class 8 net orders hit a 55-month high

ACT Research, a provider of data and analysis for trucks and other commercial vehicles, said this week that net orders for North American Class 8 vehicles checked in at 38,100 units on a non-seasonally adjusted basis in April.

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ACT Research, a provider of data and analysis for trucks and other commercial vehicles, said this week that net orders for North American Class 8 vehicles checked in at 38,100 units on a non-seasonally adjusted basis in April.

ACT said that this represents an improvement of more than 31 percent from March and a 157 percent uptick from April 2010, adding it is the highest order level since March 2006. And the Class 8 order backlog is now north of 126,000, which is its highest level in 55 months.

“Positively,Class 8 orders continue to be placed close-in,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT president and senior analyst, in a statement. “Of April’s orders, 70% were
scheduled for build by the end of Q3. Needless to say, open build slots remaining in 2011 are filling rapidly. At current fill rates, the 2011 build schedule could be completely filled by sometime in July. As has been the case throughout 2011, the industry’s challenge is ramping up production. The industry’s ability to build trucks, rather than demand for trucks will be the constraining factor on Class 8 production this year.”

This data follows a recent ACT report, which noted that a preliminary reading of heavy-duty Class 8 commercial vehicles net orders for North American markets hit 32,800 units in April.

fundamentals that support demand in the heavy-duty commercial vehicle market remain strong. In that report ACT officials said that continued strong demand for equipment indicates trucking fleets are ramping up replacement of vehicles, which has largely been deferred the past two years.

And the firm’s most recent edition of its North American Commercial Vehicle Outlook indicates that the economic recovery does support the current order trajectory in conjunction with its projection for increased commercial vehicle production through 2011 and into 2012. This growth follows a 2010 which finished with a strong fourth quarter, with ACT officials noting that the uptick in orders continues to restock industry backlogs, setting the stage for significant production increases into 2011.

One primary reason for such a significant annual gain is because January 2010 was when the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 mandate for implementing federal emissions standards in heavy duty trucks. Trucks manufactured in January 2010 and beyond cost on average $8,000-to-$10,000 more than before these efforts went live. This resulted in a mini pre-buy towards the end of 2009, and in early 2010 there were not a lot of Class 8 truck purchases occurring.

ACT Vice President, Commercial Sector, Steve Tam recently told LM that one of the core reasons for the strong April data is that the current fleet on the road is aging and is as old as it has ever been.

“We are starting to bring some new iron into the fleet,” said Tam. “This translates into more dependable trucks with fewer breakdowns and lower maintenance costs and improved driver satisfaction, too.

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About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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