In a remarkable show of strength in orders for heavy-duty, or Class 8, trucks, net truck orders set all-time monthly records in July, typically the weakest order intake month of the year, according to preliminary data published late yesterday by consultancy ACT Research.
According to ACT data, net orders—defined as new orders minus cancellations—hit 52,400 units, the best seasonally adjusted month in history, ACT said. The previous record was set in March 2006 at 52,194 units, according to ACT. On a seasonally adjusted basis, last month's activity exceeded that of the 2006 period by 13,500 units, ACT said.
July's preliminary activity was triple that of July 2017's final tally, and a 24 percent gain over June's final numbers, ACT said. Final figures for July will be published in mid-August.
The early 2006 period was right before a nasty and protracted freight recession took hold. The current cycle is the first sustained freight recovery in a dozen years.
Steve Tam, an ACT vice president, called last month's data "spectacular" in light of July's long-held reputation as a slow period. Indeed, it appears that seasonal peaks and valleys have, for now at least, been cast aside as carriers, shippers and third parties work through one of the most powerful freight rate upcycles in trucking industry history. Fleets generally don't place large-scale truck orders unless they think rate increases will be robust to justify the investment.
Net orders for classes 5-7 vehicles, which include "Class 6" parcel delivery vans, fell 27 percent month over month in July to 19,500 units, according to the ACT data. So-called medium duty activity is up 18 percent year-over-year, and 27 percent year-to-date, ACT said.