ACT Research: 2023 Ended with Seasonally Weak Class 8 Truck Net Orders and Strong Build

Final December 2023 Class 8 truck net orders in the U.S., at 26,352 units, were down 14% year over year, according to ACT Research. Within that top line, tractor orders were down 31%, while vocational equipment orders were up 71% year over year.

“For freight-related tractors, the decline in orders may hint at private fleet demand starting to diminish, which would be welcome news for spot rates. At the other end of the spectrum, vocational equipment orders remain strong as pent-up demand continues,” Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst at ACT Research, said. “With four less build days in December, Class 8 build decreased 1.5% [year over year] to 26,110 units, but production was nearly 4,500 units above the OEMs’ recently reported plans. The strong finish to the year, we believe, is primarily attributable to a California prebuy ahead of CARB regulations.

“After five months of increase, inventories fell 3,100 units in December to 64,103, if up 19% [year over year]. CARB regulations that started Jan. 1 may have contributed positively to otherwise seasonally soft retail sales at 29.8K units, down 13% [year over year]. December’s drop in inventory was only about half normal, and a weakening sales trend in a period of still-strong production suggests the potential for a rapid inventory escalation in Q1 as we enter the weakest period of the year for sales.”

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