Evidence of COVID-19 Apparent in March Commercial Vehicle Orders



Preliminary NA Class 8 net orders in March fell to 7,800 units, down 45% from February and 51% lower than an easy year-ago comparison. March’s Classes 5-7 net orders were 14,700 units, down 36% from February and 31% from year-ago levels. Complete industry data for March, including final order numbers, will be published by ACT Research in mid-April.

“Supply-side restocking on goods from China and demand-side restocking to support the surge in consumer staples actually created a positive, if temporary, inflection in freight rates,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “However, increasingly bad news on the COVID front through the month and manufacturing beginning to shutter at the end of March were a heavyweight on an already overcapacitized industry operating a very young fleet.

“On a seasonally adjusted basis, March was the weakest Class 8 order month since February 2010, and with COVID-19 becoming an even hotter topic over the course of March, one wonders about the impact on order activity on a go-forward basis,” Vieth said.

Regarding medium-duty activity in March, he noted, “After a reasonably buoyant February, the medium-duty market felt the impact of COVID-19, if with less severe symptoms than Class 8. It is important to remember that March marks the beginning of the peak order season for medium-duty vehicles.”

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 ready-to-use graph package. A first-look at preliminary net orders is also published in conjunction with this report.

 


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