ACT: Preliminary Data Show Orders for NA Classes 5-8 Vehicles at Six-Month High



Preliminary North American Class 8 net orders in July were 20,300 units, rising 27% from June and up 98% compared with July 2019, according to ACT Research. North American Classes 5-7 orders slipped to 16,700 units, down 6% month over month and 3% below July 2019 volume. Complete industry data for July, including final order numbers, will be published by ACT Research in mid-August.

ACT’s State of the Industry: Classes 5-8 Vehicles report provides a monthly look at the current production, sales and general state of the on-road heavy and medium duty commercial vehicle markets in North America. It differentiates market indicators by Class 5, Classes 6-7 chassis and Class 8 trucks and tractors, detailing activity-related measures such as backlog, build, inventory, new orders, cancellations, net orders and retail sales. Additionally, Class 5 and Classes 6-7 are segmented by trucks, buses, RVs and step van configurations. The Class 8 market is segmented into trucks and tractors, with and without sleeper cabs. The report includes a six-month industry build plan, a backlog timing analysis, historical data from 1996 to the present in spreadsheet format and a graph package. A first-look at preliminary net orders is also published in conjunction with this report.

“Preliminary data show that July orders for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles jumped to a six-month high,” Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst for ACT Research, said. “Less than a week ago, we learned that the U.S. economy was 9.5% smaller in Q2 than it was in Q1 and 10.6% below its end of 2019 level. Additionally, when the COVID began to bite in late February, there was a strong case to be made that the trucking industry was suffering from lingering overcapacity that was still putting downward pressure on freight rates and by extension, carrier profitability.

“The context of rising rates and improving carrier profits adds perspective to what is now occurring in Class 8 orders: supply matters. With many drivers (and trucks) sidelined, there is now insufficient available capacity for rebounding freight volumes. There is a strong relationship historically between carrier profits and equipment demand.

“Unlike Class 8, the medium-duty market did not swoon sharply through the worst of the shutdown. And, while orders were down on a nominal basis, seasonal adjustment boosts July’s Classes 5-7 orders to a five-month high.”

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