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ACT: Tractor orders surpass replacement levels

Feb. 20, 2024
Firm’s senior analyst attributes 45% y/y increase in Class 8 orders in January to seasonality and private-fleet demand

Final January Class 8 net orders, at 27,125 units, were up 45% year-over-year, according to ACT Research’s latest State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 report.

Total Classes 5-7 orders rose 14% year-over-year to 19,954, ACT added.

“U.S. Class 8 tractor orders surprised to an above-replacement level of 16,765 units, up 44% year-overy-ear,” Kenny Vieth, ACT president and senior analyst, said in a news release. “Seasonality is one component but given the state of for-hire truckload rates, we continue to suspect private fleets as the primary driver behind U.S. tractor demand.

“As well, the LTL segment remains a bright spot relative to [truckload] and is likely also contributing. The U.S. economy’s current strength doesn’t hurt either.”

Regarding Classes 5-7, Vieth added: “[Medium-duty] builds totaled 20,931 units, up 21% year-over-year. Inventories remain highly elevated, as MD bodybuilder labor challenges persist, totaling 85,330 units nominally, up 31% year-over-year.

“Classes 5-7 retail sales remained strong at 19,950 units.”

Vieth also said Class 8 builds decreased 7.3% year-over-year in January.

“Class 8 inventories rose 1,909 units month-over-month to 66,277 in January, up 14.3% year-over-year,” he said. “Following December’s dash to get equipment finished ahead of regulations starting at the beginning of 2024, Class 8 retail sales totaled 24,500 units in January, up 2.9% year-over-year. Amid the weakest period of the year for retail sales, and with still strong production, we continue to see risk in the potential for rapid inventory escalation in early 2024.”

ACT’s State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 report provides a monthly look at the current production, sales, and general state of the on-road heavy and medium duty commercial vehicle markets in North America. It differentiates market indicators by Class 5, Classes 6-7 chassis, and Class 8 trucks and tractors, detailing measures such as backlog, build, inventory, new orders, cancellations, net orders, and retail sales.

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