Reports indicate Class 8 orders down in November

Updated Dec 6, 2018

Preliminary North America Class 8 net order data show the industry booked 27,900 units in November, down 36 percent from October, but only 15 percent lower from last November, according to ACT Research. FTR reports preliminary Class 8 orders for November fell to 27,500, as the market winds down from five consecutive months topping 40,000 units.

“Through year-to-date November, Class 8 orders have totaled 468,600 units, an average monthly order intake of 42,600 units per month,” says Steve Tam, ACT’s vice president. “November typically has a slightly above average order seasonal factor and, as such, actual data is moderately lower when seasonally adjusted. Seasonal adjustment drops November’s order intake to 26,800 units, down 29 percent from October.”

Regarding medium-duty orders, Tam says, “Disaggregation of the medium- and heavy-duty markets reveals that medium-duty order activity perpetuated its trend-like bias in November, with orders for 25,100 vehicles besting short- and long-run averages.”

“Over the course of the past six and 12 months, medium-duty orders have averaged 24,000 and 24,900, respectively,” he adds. The data is preliminary.

Complete industry data for November, including final order numbers, will be published by ACT in mid-December.

FTR reports November orders were the lowest total this year and the weakest since September 2017. However, the drop off in order activity was expected, as OEM’s have nearly filled their order boards for 2019. Backlogs will start to recede, but still remain close to record volumes. North American Class 8 orders for the past 12 months have now totaled 499,000 units.

“It was expected that orders would fall fairly soon, as the available 2019 slots filled up. A couple of the OEMs that had some open capacity actually had solid order numbers, while the rest appear to be nearly sold out for next year,” says Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles.

“This drop in orders was reasonable considering the huge volumes of the last five months, although 27,500 is not that bad of a number. The freight fundamentals remain strong and we still expect the equipment markets to have a great year in 2019,” Ake says.

“We do expect cancellations to rise in November. Not as a result of market weakness, but because backlogs are enormous and fleets will continue to move orders around as needed. This trend is expected to last well into next year. With OEMs filling up the last available build slots, it is possible that orders may drop below 20,000 in December,” he says.

Final data for November will be available from FTR later in the month as part of its North American Commercial Truck & Trailer Outlook service.

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