When we have written about the number of net truck orders for each month for the past two years or so, expectation and reality have almost always been divergent. Whether it is COVID-19, pent-up demand as a result of lower sales in months prior, or supply chain woes, sales have often smashed or fell short of expectation. In that regard, expectation and reality lining up is actually quite a breath of fresh air. Freight Transportation Research has the numbers.
March 2023 Numbers
FTR pins the number of net orders to be around 19,000. This is a decrease of 18% from February and an 11% decrease from the same month last year. Also worth noting is that the total number of Class 8 orders in the last 12 months is currently at 301,500, still above the 300,000 milestone.
FTR predicts that the summer months will entail lower sales, followed by explosive growth in purchases come the fall. Based on the data from 2022, we are inclined to believe them.
In regards to March 2023’s numbers, Erick Stark, Chairman of FTR, said this to say:
“With build activity over the last several months hovering near 27,000 units, backlogs likely fell during the month. Given that backlogs are sitting at such high levels, however, it is difficult to ascertain if there is a fundamental weakening in the Class 8 equipment market given order activity levels. The incoming order rate for March was 228,000 annualized, right in the sweet spot at replacement demand levels.”
To summarize his point, he argues that lower sales for this month may actually be a positive for the industry, as fleets who have been waiting numerous months for their turn to get a new truck are going to get them sooner than expected, due to production finally picking up.
If the order numbers predicted in the future ring true, and production stays above 20,000 trucks every month, that backlog will finally start to dwindle, and trucking fleets will not need to prepare as far in advance as they do now for their future truck needs. The industry is still far away from fleets being able to complete the purchase process in a reasonable time, but the pressure is (finally) deflating.
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