November 5, 2019

Heavy truck orders inch up in October as carriers lack confidence in economy

Trade war and political turbulence produce "subdued" start to traditional ordering season, FTR says.

By DC Velocity Staff

Orders for new trucks in October rose 79% over the previous month—right on schedule for the traditional start of the ordering season—but still lingered 51% lower than the industry recorded for the same month in 2018, a new study shows.

Industry consulting firm FTR said preliminary North American Class 8 orders for October totaled 22,100 units, the highest level since November of 2018, but still far below a year ago.

Bar chart: North American Class 8 truck orders, 2019 vs. 2018"Orders increased in October as expected, however, caution prevails. The trade and political turmoil are producing a highly uncertain business environment," Don Ake, vice president commercial vehicles for Bloomington, Ind.-based FTR, said in a release. "Fleets are only ordering for their immediate needs. They are not willing to speculate much beyond the first quarter of next year."

The statistics showed a continuing trend of the trucking industry cutting back on vehicle purchases since going on a buying spree during the historically tight freight market of 2018, according to recent FTR reports.

In fact, FTR found that the October 2019 order activity was the weakest performance for that month since 2016. 

"Freight growth is flat, as the industrial sector slows and manufacturing struggles a bit," Ake said. "Orders are expected to stay in this range for a few months until there is more confidence in the economy and less turbulence in the trade war and political arena."

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