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Class 8 truck orders show continued strength

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
January 06, 2011

As has been the case in recent months demand for Class 8 trucks continues to surge.

This was reflected in data released this week by ACT Research, a provider of data and analysis for trucks and other commercial vehicles, and freight transportation consulting firm FTR Associates.

ACT said that December preliminary net orders of heavy-duty Class 8 vehicles for North American markets were 25,500 units, which is up 115 percent over December 2009.

“The industry closed 2010 with a string of three strong months of net orders,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT president and senior analyst, in a statement. “With nearly 71,000 orders booked, the fourth quarter was the best quarter for Class 8 vehicles since the second quarter of 2006. The ramp up in demand is consistent with the upcycle we have been forecasting for over a year and confirms production levels will increase significantly in 2011.”

In a recent interview with LM, Vieth said that based on ACT’s modeling and anecdotal evidence from truckers, it seems like the supply-demand imbalance, which has been tilted away from truckers for the last four years, has gone back to truckers, and it is not abating.

At current levels, Vieth said truck and trailer production is positioned to ramp up as fast as demand is. And with capacity still tight and current fleets aging in conjunction with a potential stretch of increased truckload earnings there could be some staying power for future truck production, he said.

According to FTR data, December preliminary net orders of heavy-duty Class 8 vehicles for major North American OEM’s was 25,247, down 3 percent from November. FTR said that net order activity for the fourth quarter of 2010, which includes the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, came in at an annualized rate of 280,324 units.

“Order activity for December came in on the high side of expectations and supports our view that production and sales will continue to accelerate during 2011,” said FTR president Eric Starks in a statement. “Freight demand will need to remain solid in early 2011 to maintain this strong order activity for Class 8 units.  Additionally, other issues like the growing driver shortage as the economy improves do place a drag on fleets’ ability to add capacity.  The current order activity is primarily for units to replace aging trucks.”

Starks told LM that while net orders remain below replacement levels, they are heading in the right direction.

“If you look at the last 12 months, we are slightly above the 12 month average,” said Starks, “but it is not substantial. As we get to that time in the next few months where carriers start making decisions on orders for next year, we need to get to that next stage where we see some [continued] healthy order activity.”

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
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. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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