Class 8 orders 'surprised' with strong final January totals

ACT Research tractor dashboard

ACT Research reported its final January 2024 Classes 5-8 truck orders Monday. The totals were strong across the board.

Class 8 orders totaled 27,125 units, up 45% year over year. Classes 5-7 were up 14% year over year to 19,954 units.

“U.S. Class 8 tractor orders surprised to an above-replacement level of 16,765 units,” says Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “Seasonality is one component, but given the state of for-hire truckload rates, we continue to suspect private fleets as the primary driver behind U.S. tractor demand. As well, the LTL segment remains a bright spot relative to TL and is likely also contributing. The U.S. economy’s current strength doesn’t hurt either.”

Build totals were strong for the market too, though down slightly from the previous year. Vieth says the Class 8 build decreased by 7.3% year over year to 26,926 units in January, while Class 8 inventories rose 1,909 units month over month to 66,277 units in January, up 14.3% from January 2023.

[Download our state of the industry survey results!]

“Following December’s dash to get equipment finished ahead of regulations starting at the beginning of 2024, Class 8 retail sales totaled 24,500 units in January, up 2.9% year over year” Vieth says. â€śAmid the weakest period of the year for retail sales, and with still strong production, we continue to see risk in the potential for rapid inventory escalation in early 2024.”

In the medium-duty space, Vieth reports the Classes 5-7 build in January totaled 20,931 units, up 21% year over year. He says inventories also remain highly elevated, as medium-duty bodybuilder labor challenges persist, totaling 85,330 units nominally, up 31% year over year. Classes 5-7 retail sales remained strong at 19,950 units, Vieth adds.

Learn how to move your used trucks faster
With unsold used inventory depreciating at a rate of more than 2% monthly, efficient inventory turnover is a must for dealers. Download this eBook to access proven strategies for selling used trucks faster.
Used Truck Guide Cover