January new truck orders explode, post highest month in more than a decade

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Updated Feb 8, 2018

The new truck order market reached the stratosphere in January.

According to a report Friday from ACT Research, preliminary North America Class 5-8 net orders show the trucking industry booked 80,400 units last month, one of the highest volume single months in recorded history. ACT Research says the month’s order volume is surpassed only by March 2006, during the frenzied period ahead of the EPA 2007 pre-buy.

“As was the case in the total market, Class 8 orders posted their best volume since March 2006, rising to 48,700 units,” says Kenny Vieth, ACT’s President and Senior Analyst. “Seasonal adjustment reduces the month’s order largess to 42,400 units, which represents a seasonally adjusted month-over-month increase of 41 percent and a 107 percent year-over-year increase.”

ACT Research says Class 5-7 orders were equally impressive in January, with a high-side break-out at 31,700 units.

“This is the best month since July 2006 and the third best month on record,” says Vieth. “On a seasonally adjusted basis, medium-duty orders came in at 32,300 units, up 56 percent month-over-month and 34 percent year-over-year.”

Using preliminary February orders and the corresponding OEM build plans from January’s State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 Vehicles report for guidance, ACT Research says the medium-duty backlog is likely to rise 12,000 units, while the Class 8 backlog is likely to rise by 25,200 units. ACT Research also notes that the data never quite aligns month-to-month, so there may be some variability when final data is collected. Assuming these are reasonably close to actuals, the company says the medium-duty backlog will rise to 66,800 units – a volume not seen since January 2007, and the Class 8 backlog will jump to just over 159,000 units. That will mark the highest Class 8 backlog volume since May 2015.

Finally, ACT Research says these numbers are preliminary. Complete industry data for January, including final order numbers, will be published in mid-February.

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