ECONOMIC WATCH: Renewed fleet confidence fueling stronger Class 8 truck demand

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Fleet confidence has returned in the form of strengthening Class 8 truck orders, which surged in September to 32,000 units according to preliminary data from FTR. That’s the highest total since October 2018, up 55% from August and 160% year-over-year, FTR reported. Orders come from both replacement and expansion demand, according to the industry forecaster.

“The Class 8 truck market continues to recover faster and better than expected.

This strong order volume suggests fleets believe there will be steady freight growth going forward. Rates have improved, so carriers have the cash, and now they also have the confidence. When you combine those two factors, orders tend to surge,” said Don Ake, vice-president of commercial vehicles.

“There was considerable pent-up demand in the market, as orders sank in the March to May time period. So, trucks that would have normally been ordered then, are being ordered now, since much of the risk has passed. The order volume is very close to August’s trailer orders; therefore, it appears that the fleets took care of their trailer needs first, and then caught up to the truck side in September.

“Ordering for 2021 deliveries will begin in earnest this month, so the industry has solid momentum going into the fall ordering season.

This is still a risk-filled environment, with some of that uncertainty having intensified recently.

But many fleets are focused on future business prospects and are willing to assume the short-term risks for long-term gains.”

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