At the top line, North America Class 8 net orders totaled 42,781 units in September, a 19% decline from August’s all-time record, but still the seventh time in 9 months in which industry orders cracked 40,000 units, according to ACT Research (ACT).
“We expect orders to remain strong in coming months, with backlog growth expected in Q4. However, it is our belief that July and August represent the high-water mark for orders in the current cycle, based on monthly data reporting,” says Kenny Vieth, President and Senior Analyst. Vieth adds, “Even at September’s inflated build rate, it would still take the industry 189 days to build down the backlog. And regarding September’s build strength, which was well above build plans, it is our belief that much of the surprise was related to the finishing of incomplete units.”
Regarding the medium-duty markets, Vieth comments, “Demand for Classes 5-7 vehicles continued within well-defined Goldilocksian parameters in September. Orders gained momentum, ending the month at 24,709 units.” He adds, “Medium-duty backlogs reversed course in September, rising 1,300 units month-over-month, but this was overshadowed by higher build rates, causing the BL/BU ratio to drop 2 days to 3.2 months.”