Following the first quarter’s stronger orders, production picked up starting in April. In May, a long month and a rising build rate conspired to drive NA Class 8 production to an 18-month high. “Annualized, May’s production rate equals a full-year production of 263k units,” says Kenny Vieth, President and Senior Analyst at ACT Research.
With orders softening as build ramps up, Class 8 backlogs dropped nearly 7,000 units from April. The Heavy Duty backlog analysis continues to show a very large front-end component to orders. “The second quarter of 2017 is effectively filled and of the units of production planned in Q3, only 18,200 build slots were empty,” says Vieth. He continues, “Q4 remains wide open, with nearly 70% of the quarter’s planned build slots remaining unfilled.”
Completing the circle of data that starts with stronger orders leading to higher build rates, retail sales accelerated in May. Class 8 retail sales jumped in May to 21,200 units, falling just short of December’s sales volume as the best sales month in the past year.