Orders of class 8 trucks in North America rose to 22,188 units in January, a 13-month high, according to ACT Research. Meanwhile, orders of trailers in North America increased 92% to nearly 33,000 units in January, compared to the same month in 2016.
The rise in the number of semitrailer orders supports “the notion that the (second quarter and third quarter of 2016) marked the bottom of the current cycle,” according to ACT. “A driver of renewed market strength has been an uptick in demand for vocational equipment.” Vocational equipment orders increased to 8,500 units, which was a two-year high and represented 38.5% of total orders for the month, said Kenny Vieth, ACT Research president and senior analyst.
“Stronger orders, coupled with modest build, allowed backlogs to rise 7,600 units from December to 99,600 units,” he said.
Dry-van trailer orders were 25,500 units, and accounting for seasonal adjustment, January was the best month since 2015. “Using seasonal adjustment, dry van orders the past three months have been booked at a 237,000-unit annualized rate, more than double the 114,000-unit rate experienced the preceding three months,” said Frank Maly, director of commercial vehicle transportation analysis and research at ACT. “Moving in the opposite direction reefer van orders moderated following robust order activity through (the fourth quarter).”
“While 2017 order season timing has lagged, recent order activity indicates a substantive, positive change in fleet confidence,” Maly said.