FTR, a company that specializes in freight transportation forecasting, has reported that preliminary North American Class 8 orders plummeted in March to 7,400 units, the lowest order total since 2010.
March orders were -48% m/m and -52% y/y. A significant number of fleets canceled orders previously placed due to the sharp and sudden downturn in economic conditions.
Uncertainty over the duration of the COVID-19 crisis is limiting orders to short-term, definite needs. FTR expects orders to stay near the 10,000-truck mark for a few months until economic activity regenerates. Class 8 orders have totaled 170,000 units over the past 12 months.
“The only good news here is that the number was still positive despite the high number of expected cancellations. The gross order number is probably higher than 10,000 trucks, which means at least some fleets need more vehicles. A few carriers are doing well in the short-term, depending on the region and the type of freight being hauled,” says Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles.
“It is expected that most fleets will pause their replacement cycles due to the crisis. Large fleets that have immediate needs and the financial resources will continue to place modest orders. Additionally, smaller fleets may tap into the used truck market for their short-term needs to reduce the financial risk. The second quarter will be tough on the Class 8 market, and the third quarter is still highly uncertain,” he adds.
Final data for March will be available from FTR later in the month as part of its North American Commercial Truck & Trailer Outlook service.
Photo: Volvo Trucks North American assembly plant