Orders of class 8 trucks in North America reached a 14-month high at 23,200 units in February, from 18,078 in the same month in 2016.
It was the “third positive year-over-year comparison in the past two years,” Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst for Act Research, said in a news release. “Weak orders in 2016 and an improving economy should make positive year to year comparison a monthly occurrence as we move through 2017.”
February orders “exceeded expectations,” according to an industry update from transportation analysts Michael J. Baudendistel and Brady Cox, both of Stifel. As a result, the analysts changed their production estimates for the next two years. Production of class 8 trucks is expected to be 215,000 units in 2017 and 245,000 units in 2018, “to reflect the improved optimism at fleets and apparent willingness to again commit capital to new equipment.”
Though the order numbers for February were better than expected, they “do not excite, being below the average 24,615 units ordered in the month in the prior six years,” according to the Stifel analysts. Also, the production level for 2017 is expected to decline 7% from 2016. But the analysts’ previous estimates showed production was to decline 13%.