ACT Research shows Class 8 orders indicate possible market turn

Class 8: N.A. Net Orders

ACT says March's Class 8 orders indicating slowing capacity additions, part of what's needed for the freight market to turn, the company says. 

[RELATED: ACT, FTR show drop in net trailer orders in first part of 2024]

Final Class 8 net orders for March totaled 17,410 units (17,200, seasonally adjusted), which is down 8.4% year-over-year. Total Classes 5-7 orders rose 23% year-over-year to 25,359 units (23,400 seasonally adjusted). 

"March orders may finally indicate a slowdown in capacity additions, a requisite for the freight market to turn, after a year of growth that defied typical fundamentals," says Kenny Vieth, ACT's president and senior analyst. "Though we note, Q2 and Q3 are the weakest points in the calendar for orders, so the call is not prescient." 

U.S. tractor orders were down 1.3% year-over year and, in the vocational market, total NA Class 8 truck orders fell 2% year-over-year to 5,300 units, Vieth says.

"Between strong production and softening U.S. tractor sales the past six months, Class 8 inventories have risen substantively. Since last September, Class 8 inventories have risen nearly 15,000 units, hitting another four-year high in March," Vieth says. "Class 8 build totaled 29,854 units in March, down 5% year-over-year, but due to Easter, had three fewer production days this year. Total Class 8 retail sales were 25,492 units, down 13% year-over-year." 

Medium-duty retail sales stayed healthy, Vieth says, at 20,320 units. 

"Classes 5-7 inventories remained highly elevated in March, as medium-duty bodybuilder labor and supply chain challenges persist," Vieth continues. "Inventory totaled 89,360 units on a nominal basis, up 22% year-over-year. Retail sales remained healthy at 20,320 units." 

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