Orders for Class 8 heavy trucks in December increased 70% from November after dropping 60% that month according to transportation research firm FTR.
However Dec 2015 orders were down 36% year over year. North America Class 8 truck orders for 2014 equaled 375,000 units, the second highest order year in history, after 2004. When combining November and December, Class 8 orders were close to the average for the past ten months and totaled 284,000 for the year.
“The improved December orders provide some needed stability to what was a shaky Class 8 market,” explains Don Ake, FTR vice president of Commercial Vehicles. “Orders have averaged about 22,000 per month for the last ten months and in Q4 averaged 23,300; so the orders have been very consistent for a while, just at a lower level. The improved December orders are not high enough to prevent the announced production cuts however.
"The December orders show there is still solid demand for Class 8 trucks in 2016. This is much welcomed news after the very concerning November total. Backlogs will actually increase in December for the first time since February. Orders should retreat some next month, with the industry in a more balanced state once the planned production cuts are complete.”
A rebound in orders for linehaul tractors was the most likely cause of the increase in total Class 8 orders, Michael J. Baudendistel, a vice president at investment research firm Stifel, said as reported by JOC. “We believe larger fleets were likely more active in December,” he said.
But he does not see December’s uptick as something that we be repeated this year. “The headwinds facing the industry in 2016 are still significant,” he said.