FTR reports preliminary North American Class 8 orders for December fell to 21,000 units, the lowest total since August 2017. December order activity was as expected, with fleets ordering to secure a dwindling number of available build slots in the second half of 2019. There are few build slots remaining for 2019, so expect orders totals to remain low the next several months. Backlogs will continue to fall but will remain lofty at the beginning of 2019. Class 8 orders for the past 12 months have now totaled 482,000 units.
Don Ake, FTR Vice President of Commercial Vehicles, comments, “Order rates right now are not that relevant because of the record-breaking totals recorded in June and July last year. Fleets got a jump on ordering to reserve 2019 build slots, so orders had to fall off at some point, and December was the start of it.
“Because orders rates are reduced, they are not currently a good barometer of long-term demand. All the orders are in, the question now is how many of these orders will actually be built? We will have to watch the build rates and retail sales closely for clues about the future strength of the Class 8 market.
“FTR is forecasting freight growth to ease back some from the 2018 peak, but remain vibrant for the first half of 2019. At some point, the economy and freight growth will moderate and truck builds will decline. Then order cancellation rates will rise.”