FTR reports preliminary North American Class 8 orders for October are at 22,100 units, the highest level since November of 2018—but still far below a year ago.
October 2019 order activity was the weakest performance for the month since 2016, FTR maintained.
While October orders were the highest this year and up 79% month-over-month, they were 51% lower than October 2018, signifying a subdued beginning to the traditional start of the ordering season. The order level was boosted by a couple of big fleets placing large orders into 2020, but otherwise smaller orders were placed for the first-quarter build. Cancellations are expected to remain elevated as OEMs shake out excess 2019 orders from the backlog. Class 8 orders for the past 12 months are at 192,000 units.
“Orders increased in October as expected, however, caution prevails,” said Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles. “The trade and political turmoil are producing a highly uncertain business environment. Fleets are only ordering for their immediate needs. They are not willing to speculate much beyond the first quarter of next year. The OEMs have plenty of open capacity right now, so carriers are willing to approach 2020 a step at a time.
“The orders were fair in October. Freight growth is flat, as the industrial sector slows and manufacturing struggles a bit. Orders are expected to stay in this range for a few months until there is more confidence in the economy and less turbulence in the trade war and political arena.”
FTR said final data for October will be available later in the month as part of its North American Commercial Truck & Trailer Outlook service. To contact FTR, email [email protected] or call (888) 988-1699 Ext 1.