Class 8 truck orders stay hot, exceeding last year's pace

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Updated Mar 7, 2024

Class 8 truck orders stayed strong in February, with little change from last month and improved year over year positioning, FTR and ACT Research reported Monday.

FTR pegged last month's preliminary orders at 25,700 units, down 9% from January but up 11% from 2023. ACT Research's preliminary estimate was even higher at 27,700 units, up 600 units from January and 16% from February 2023. FTR says Class 8 orders have totaled 263,700 units over the last 12 months, with February's orders being consistent with recent demand trends and above seasonal expectations. 

Concerns of a rapid easing of demand in 2024 are not coming to fruition, FTR reports, nor is the market doing significantly better than replacement level orders. After peaking last November at 36,000 units, the company says orders have stabilized at a level roughly 10,000 units lower over the last three months.

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“Build slots continue to be filled at a reasonable rate. With February orders coming in at a rate that was comparable to December 2023, the market is still performing at a solid level,” says Eric Starks, FTR chairman of the board. “It was a mixed market for OEMs this month with some seeing increases and others seeing decreases in orders.

Despite the weakness in the freight markets that has persisted for more than a year, fleets continue to be willing to order new equipment. Order levels were above the historical average and above seasonal trends, but our expectations for replacement output by the end of this year remain unchanged.”

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ACT Research offers similar analysis. 

“Weak freight and carrier profitability fundamentals, and large carriers guiding to lower capex in 2024, would imply pressure in U.S. tractor, the NA Class 8 market’s largest segment,” President and Senior Analyst Kenny Vieth adds. “While we do not yet have the underlying detail for February order volumes, Class 8 demand continuing at high levels again this month suggests that U.S. buyers continue as strong market participants.”

The company also says February was the fourth largest seasonal factor of the year at 8%, which with a seasonal adjustment reduces February Class 8 intake to 25,600 units (307,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate, up 5% from January.

In the medium-duty space, Vieth adds Classes 5-7 net orders were “18,800 units in February, up 7% year over year. February’s medium-duty net order seasonal factor, at 5%, is the fifth strongest of the year, thereby lowering the seasonally adjusted order tally to 17,900 units, down 13% month over month, and the lowest seasonally adjusted tally in 13 months.”

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