ACT Research: Preliminary NA Classes 5-8 Vehicle Orders Cool at Start of 2021

Preliminary North American Class 8 net orders in January 2021 were 42,200 units, down 17% from December but a 146% improvement from January 2020, according to ACT Research. North American Classes 5-7 demand, with orders at 25,300 units, slid 28% sequentially but were still up 26% compared with last January. Complete industry data for January, including final order numbers, will be published by ACT Research in mid-February.

“At this introductory pass at 2021 commercial vehicle data, the consumer economy lacks the stimulus-fueled robustness that characterized spending into early Q4,” Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst at ACT Research, said. “Even as consumers look less hearty — at least in the short term — manufacturing sector indicators show that the industrial economy is shaking off the dust of two years of tepid activity. The slower economic expansion of the past two months is reflected in spot freight rates, which have trended lower since November. Some, but not all, of the pullback relates to seasonality, which was also reflected in January’s preliminary commercial vehicle net order data.”

Regarding the medium-duty market, Vieth said, “Despite January’s preliminary net order moderation, the pandemic-driven shift in consumer spending from experiences to goods remains a benefit for the providers of local trucking services, and the symbiotic relationship between heavy-duty freight rates and medium-duty demand continues to impact this market segment.”

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