Truck order boom ends; June returns to seasonal range

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Updated Jul 5, 2024
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After a spring with continued, stronger-than-expected truck orders, the Class 8 market returned to seasonal norms in June, FTR and ACT Research reported Tuesday.

FTR reported that Class 8 preliminary net orders for June totaled 13,100 units, down 33% from May and 6% year over year. ACT Research was slightly higher at 14,800 units, but still down 37% from its May 2024 total and down 12% from June 2023. FTR reports Class 8 orders for the past 12 months have now totaled 273,700 units.

FTR adds June’s orders are on the low side of normal market results, but this follows a five-month period of sustained strength in orders averaging 25% higher than the prior year. After averaging close to 18,000 units during the first three months of the year, orders have continued to slow at a seasonally expected rate, averaging just under 16,000 units in the most recent three months. The company says build slots for Class 8 trucks are being filled at a steady, albeit slowing, pace, and that June's monthly decline in orders was in line with seasonal expectations.

Additionally, FTR reports the year over year decrease is the first this year, but it is relatively insignificant because it is modest and because of the strong order performance over the previous five months. While all OEMs experienced order declines, preliminary data indicates that vocational market demand dropped more significantly.

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“The levels seen in June are consistent with seasonal expectations, and the market is still performing at or above replacement levels for incoming orders. Despite stagnant freight markets, fleets continue to invest in new equipment. Order levels are in line with historical averages and seasonal expectations, and market fundamentals remain little changed based on these preliminary orders,” says Dan Moyer, FTR senior analyst, commercial vehicles.

ACT June 2024 truck orders

Adds ACT President and Senior Analyst Kenny Vieth, â€śEven in good years, Q2 typically delivers below-trend orders, while Q4 orders can trigger optimism at the bottom of the cycle. With the long bottom in freight volumes and rates continuing in the most recent data from DAT amid lingering market overcapacity, for-hire carriers’ financial performance has been dismal.”

He adds, “Entering the historically worst time of the year for orders at the bottom of tractor buyers’ profitability cycle is producing results in line with expectations. At the same time, the brightest spot in the economy has been consumer services spending, helping to support steady medium-duty truck demand.”

And in the medium-duty space, Vieth says the order discrepancy wasn't as severe.

“Reflecting underlying service sector strength, NA Classes 5-7 net orders were 19,000 units in June, down 1.6% month over month, but up an in-line 3.3% year over year,” he says.

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