ACT calls August the best month of 2023 since February, with seasonally adjusted numbers showing 21,500 units ordered. That's down 9% year over year, but up 7.1% month over month.
"As represented by seasonal factors, the industry remains at that time of the year when expectations for order activity are low, as most of the current year's orders have been booked and out-year build plans are only starting to open," says Kenny Vieth, ACT's president and senior analyst. "For Class 8, August is the last month of the 'weak order season,' the four-month period that begins in May. Adding to downward pressure, the 2023 build plan has been essentially filled since the end of Q1."
FTR's numbers show Class 8 orders are up 16% versus July, with 15,400 orders. The company says orders were down 26% year over year, but that the comparison is deceptive because last year's orders were unusually strong.
The orders remain below replacement levels, FTR says. Total Class 8 orders for the previous 12 months totaled 294,000 units.
"As build slots start to open for 2023 production, fleets are starting to place orders on the books. However, much of the ordering for 2024 has yet to be seen and typically will not show up until September or October," Eric Starks, chairman of FTR's board says. "Despite rising order activity, the year-over-year comparisons will look horrible through November due to record order activity in the second half of 2022. The actual unit order levels will be more significant in the near term than the year-over-year change in analyzing the strength of the market.
"Even though order activity is still below replacement demand, a key takeaway from the August data is that fleets are not shying away from ordering new equipment, which is a good sign for the second half of the year."
Data from both companies are preliminary and subject to revision. They will release final numbers mid-month.