ACT: Class 8 Demand Realignment Ahead, MD Continues Positive Trend

According to ACT Research, North America Class 8 retail sales firmed into the end of 2016 in seasonal fashion, rising to a six-month high of 21,281 units sold, and bringing the full-year sales total to 249,952 units.

Set against strengthening orders, seasonal production weakness reduced December build to 14,145 units, leaving the full-year North American Class 8 production tally at 228,347 units.

Strong December sales and modest production reduced the industry’s inventory overhang by 6,300 units in December, bringing the full-year inventory correction to nearly 21,000 units. The industry ended 2016 with a 36-month low of 44,865 inventory units.

“Going forward, the big inventory pulldown into the end of the year, and the full-year inventory correction, will allow industry production to more closely align itself with demand,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT Research president and senior analyst.

Classes 5-7 net orders ended the year on a high note, rising above 20,000 units for only the second time since April. In December, net orders rose to a nine-month high of 22,083 units.

“Full-year 2016 saw orders fall 0.7% from 2015 to 229,403 units. School bus and RV orders were up incrementally in 2016, while trucks and step vans saw volumes fall incrementally,” Vieth said.

The consistency in medium duty vehicle orders the past two years is almost unheard of, and there is little to suggest a change of trend in 2017.

“Given that consumer-related MD economic drivers remain largely unchanged, our expectations are for more of the same in terms of MD demand in 2017,” Vieth said.

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