Class 8 orders for December fell for the third consecutive month to 28,300 units, according to FTR. But this doesn’t mean a weakening of demand.
There has likely been some end-of-year cleanup of the order boards as OEMs look to firm up their production schedules, FTR officials reported. Orders are now in line with sales and production levels, so any further reductions in incoming orders will start to eat into backlogs.
“Backlogs are still elevated but not at such a level that they can sustain significant deterioration without impacting production output,” says FTR CEO and Chief Intelligence Officer Jonathan Starks. “Despite these concerns, essentially all the production slots for the first half of the year are full and the second half of the year is starting to fill up as well.
ACT Research, which reported 30,300 ordered units for December, said the intake was 4% below the year-to-date monthly average heading into the month.
“On the surface, and when combined with a 26% month-over-month decline on an seasonally adjusted basis, that might suggest some weakening in demand.” Eric Crawford, ACT’s Vice President and Senior Analyst, said in a press release. “But when factoring in the year-end seasonal uptick in orders began a month ahead of schedule this year (September), which skewed the year-to-date SA average upward, and that September orders represented the highest monthly total on record, we’re inclined to view December’s order intake as a solid end to a robust final four months of the year.”
Orders for the past 12 months total 302,000 units.
Starks says the heavy vehicle market remains strong despite economic and financial uncertainties, and that production will still be limited to some extent by supply chains and labor.