Preliminary Class 8 net orders in December were around 30,300 ACT reports, while FTR puts the number closer to 28,300. Either way, it's a decline month-over-month and shows a moderation in ordering.
However, production slots for the first half of the year are full and the second half is starting to fill up, too, thanks to remaining pandemic backlogs.
"The heavy vehicle market remains strong despite economic and financial uncertainties, and production will still be limited to some extent by supply chains and labor," says Jonathan Starks, FTR chief executive officer.
He adds, “Backlogs are still elevated but not at such a level that they can sustain significant deterioration without impacting production output. Despite these concerns, essentially all the production slots for the first half of the year are full and the second half of the year is starting to fill up as well."
ACT Vice President and Senior Analyst Eric Crawford says that, at a glance, December's numbers suggest weakening in demand. But considering that previous months showed a surge of orders, "we're inclined to view December's order intake as a solid end to a robust final four months of the year."
Medium-duty orders remained moderate. December Class 5-7 orders declined 17 percent month-over-month, ACT says.
Crawford pointed out that large cancellations reflecting a correction in cancellation reporting at one of the large OEM groups weighed December's activity. ACT will report specifics when the final December data are released mid-January, Crawford says. FTR will also finalize numbers mid-month.