FTR reports preliminary North American Class 8 orders for March at 15,200 units, remaining below the 20,000 threshold for the third consecutive month. March 2019 was the lowest March for orders since 2010. March orders were 8% below February and down 67% y/y (year-over-year). Class 8 orders for the past 12 months have now totaled 397,000 units.
Demand is still strong, but supply is limited with all of the choice build slots for 2019 filled. Fleets that need trucks are basically taking whatever is available. Backlogs are rapidly declining, as the market tries to rebalance and establish some semblance of normality.
Don Ake, FTR Vice President of Commercial Vehicles, comments, “These are extraordinary market conditions. Most fleets ordered well in advance of their need for trucks in 2019. OEM production slots were scarce in 2018 and supplier constraints caused disruptions in supply, so fleets didn’t want to get shutout this year. Now so many build slots have been reserved, fleets that are currently placing orders for delivery this year don’t have many options.
“Even though the economy and freight growth appear to be slowing, it has not impacted OEM line rates as of yet. Fleets are still putting more trucks in service and competing in a still decent freight market. It is expected that Class 8 sales will moderate sometime before the end of the year, as industry capacity begins to catch up with the freight surge that began in 2018.”