Preliminary North American Class 8 net orders fell again in January due to OEMs working to fulfill a backlog of orders. This slower start to 2023 could be attributed to fewer build slots available; however, overall activity points to fleets having less concern about a recession – according to FTR and ACT (who shared medium-duty data).
FTR Transportation Intelligence reported 21,600 units in January, a 25% drop from December, and ACT Research said 18,400. According to Eric Crawford, the “robust Class 8 orders” into year-end, the pause in January is not surprising. ACT reported nearly 159,000 Class 8 net orders over the final four months of 2022, a 92% increase from 2021 and 8% below 2020. January’s orders represent the first year-over-year decline since August.
But FTR’s January 2023 preliminary numbers are up 2% compared to January 2022. The firm said 303,000 Class 8 orders were made over the past 12 months. However, the pace of orders has slowed due to backlogs. Eric Starks, FTR’s chairman of the board, said that “Orders remain above replacement demand levels but are below recent production activity” and that “This type of activity by fleets indicates that they are not overly concerned about an economic recession and continue to lock in build slots for the second half of 2023.”
Medium-duty demand: ‘healthy.’
According to ACT’s State of the Industry report, North American Classes 5-7 orders (defined by ACT Research as medium-duty) were 17,800 in January. “Medium-duty demand was healthy,” Crawford said, “January Class 5-7 orders rose 5% Y/Y (+12% M/M) to 17,80Class. The seasonally adjusted+12ntake at 18,100 units was +4% Y/Y (+12% M/M).
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