The order onslaught continued in February, with North American Class 8 net orders falling from January’s second-best ever to a more pedestrian seventh-best 40,271 units, with backlogs rising in tandem, ACT Research reported Thursday. North American Class 8 net orders have averaged nearly 28,400 units per month, or 1,384 units per day, based on the number of production days in 2018.
“The drivers of current order strength are broad-based, with supply-side, demand-side and exogenous factors all contributing to the outsized level of U.S. and Canadian Class 8 order activity,” says Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst at ACT Research. U.S. and Canadian tractors remain the primary drivers of outsized order volumes, rising 107 percent and 112 percent year over year, respectively, in February. In a virtual carbon copy of January, North American vocational truck orders were up 40 percent year over year. Vieth adds, “Orders well above the rate of production continue to propel backlog growth. Class 8 backlog rose nearly 17,000 units from January, to 177,451 units, a nearly three-year high.”
Regarding the medium-duty markets, Vieth says, “The medium-duty markets are experiencing their own high-side order breakouts. While unable to rise above January’s ‘best in 12 years’ volume, February orders, at 26,651 units, remained well above the prevailing trend.”
Unlike January, in which all of the industry’s strength was truck derived, February’s orders were more balanced, with trucks, buses and RVs all posting mid-teen gains on a year-over-year basis. “Order strength in this sector is now at a level not seen this decade,” Veith adds.