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Heavy, Medium-Duty Truck Orders Solid in March

COLUMBUS, IN — March 2014 was a good month for heavy and medium-duty truck orders, according to two reports from freight forecasters.

The freight forecast firm FTR says that at the end of March in North America, a total of 27,139 Class 8 trucks were ordered, which makes March 2014 the fourth month in a row of solid order activity.

The folks at commercial vehicle data provider ACT Research agree, saying their numbers show Class 8 orders to be around 27,400, plus or minus five percent.

“This is a great order total for the month of March. The market is maintaining strength and confirms we are in a solid growth cycle. OEMs are expected to increase build rates in response to their growing backlog,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles.

December 2013 through March 2014 is the best four-month period since 2006, according to FTR.

The past 14 months have each shown a year-over-year improvement, with totals for the first quarter of 2014 at 35 percent above the first quarter of 2013. Class 8 orders over the last six months have seen activity reach 337,000 units on a yearly rate and continue to meet positive expectations, FTR claims.

Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst commented: “Class 8 orders in March represented the lowest intake since November, but March was also the sixth best order month since early 2006, up 24 percent compared to a year ago. Typically a strong month, seasonal adjustment drops March orders to 26,100 units for a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 314,000. In the first quarter Class 8 net orders were booked at a 353,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate.”

Meantime, ACT Research predicts North American Class 5 through Class 7 net orders will show a total of 17,600 for March, plus or minus five percent.

“Like Class 8, Classes 5 through 7, net orders rose compared to March 2013, but slipped sequentially,” Vieth said. “That volume represents a seven-percent decline from February’s cycle-to-date high and a 15 percent improvement from last March.”

He said consistency continues to be part of the medium duty vehicle order story, noting over the past three, six, and 12 months, orders have been booked at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 209,000, 206,000 and 204,000 units, respectively.

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