FTR Associates has released preliminary data showing August Class 8 truck total net orders for all major North American OEM’s at 20,513, an 11 percent increase over July.
Despite this modest improvement, FTR says the numbers were still down to levels not seen since October 2010. Nevertheless, FTR says the pace of orders earlier this year was so strong that annualized Class 8 orders for the six month period including August stands at 299,600 units — a significant improvement from a year ago.
“Although August numbers weren’t spectacular, the fact they reversed the downward trend we had seen over the past three months gave us an indication that fleet buyers are still in the market for new vehicles,” says Eric Starks, FTR president. “We were worried that orders might fall given the uncertainty in the economy. The current level of activity makes me breath a bit easier and suggests that fleets were not spooked into delaying orders.
“Going forward, orders will primarily be for 2012 build since the manufacturer order boards are basically full for the remainder of this year. Builders will not be taking any heroic measures to increase current production rates given the high level of uncertainty in the economy.”
Starks adds, “Despite current weakness we are cautiously optimistic that these build rates will be supportable into 2012. However, if the economy turns sour in a big way, that certainly could change the dynamic and we are watching that closely.”
Final data for August will be available from FTR later in the month as part of its North American Commercial Truck & Trailer Outlook service.