FTR reports preliminary North American Class 8 orders for June at 13,000 units, up 24% from May, but continuing to track well below 20,000 units. Including June activity, this is the weakest six-month start to a year since 2010.
Most orders for 2019 delivery have already been placed. Fleets are moving around previously placed orders and adjusting delivery times according to business conditions and smaller fleets and dealers are placing small fill-in orders, as production slots become available in the near term. Backlogs should fall under 200,000 units for first time since May 2018. Class 8 orders for the past 12 months now total 331,000 units.
Don Ake, FTR vice-president of commercial vehicles, said: “The orders are truly a mixed bag. One OEM reportedly started to take orders for 2020, but the other OEMs apparently did not. Without the 2020 orders, the total would have dipped below the 10,000-unit mark. Most OEMs are reluctant to quote future trucks due to uncertainty over material costs. Until the tariff situation is resolved, it is risky to quote prices for 2020. Fleets are also reluctant to accept material surcharges with this much ambiguity present.
“The economy and freight are still growing, but the latest manufacturing data is not promising. The consumer sector is sturdy, but freight growth is expected to moderate the rest of the year. As a result, Class 8 truck build rates should begin to decrease in the coming months.”