The fall seasonal boom has come to the new truck space.
FTR reported preliminary Class 8 orders for September at 31,200 units and ACT Research was even more bullish at 36,800 units. Both totals are highest order totals of 2023, though track behind what the market saw in 2022.
FTR says September's total was up 94% versus August and down 45% year over year. Total Class 8 orders for the previous 12 months have equaled 270,000 units, FTR says. ACT Research says its preliminary total was up 67% from August.
Both the month-over-month increase and the year-over-year decrease were well within expectations given that build slots have opened for 2024 production and that the market continues to normalize after last year’s exceptional order volumes, FTR states.
“Build slots have opened for 2024 production, and fleets are placing orders at a solid pace. Although a large increase in September was expected due to available build slots, it is still a positive indicator for the industry,” says Eric Starks, FTR chairman of the board. “We saw increases across the board versus August — another indication this is a broad-based gain for the market.
“Between reports of falling carrier income and margins, still sloshy load-to-truck ratios, weak spot rates reported by DAT, and a sense over the past six weeks or so that the U.S. economy’s year-to-date outperformance was starting to lose some momentum, we were unsure how the market would respond when the 2024 orderboards officially opened,” says Kenny Vieth, ACT’s President and Senior Analyst.
“One thing we did know was that nearly all the August-ending Class 8 backlog was scheduled for build in 2023, so strong orders are imperative for the industry to maintain current strong production rates very far into 2024.”
Starks adds, “Despite the weakness in the overall freight market, fleets continue to be willing to order new equipment. We did not anticipate matching the level of orders that we saw this time last year, but increasing orders confirm our expectations of replacement demand in 2024.”
In the medium-duty Classes 5-7 space, ACT Research's preliminary September order total was up 13% from August to 23,100 units.
“While it is too early to infer much from September orders, data from the OEMs confirm the ‘season’ started on the right foot,” says Vieth.