Preliminary NA Class 8 net orders in March fell to 7800 units, down 45% from February and 51% lower than a year-ago comparison. March’s Classes 5 to 7 net orders were 14,700 units, down 36% from February and 31% from year-ago levels. Complete industry data for March, including final order numbers, will be published by ACT Research in mid-April.
“Supply-side restocking on goods from China and demand-side restocking to support the surge in consumer staples actually created a positive, if temporary, inflection in freight rates,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “However, increasingly bad news on the COVID front through the month and manufacturing beginning to shutter at the end of March were a heavy weight on an already overcapacitized industry operating a very young fleet,” Vieth said.
“On a seasonally adjusted basis, March was the weakest Class 8 order month since February 2010, and with COVID-19 becoming an even hotter topic over the course of March, one wonders about the impact on order activity on a go-forward basis.”
Regarding medium duty activity in March, Vieth said, “after a reasonably buoyant February, the medium duty market felt the impact of COVID-19, if with less severe symptoms than Class 8. It is important to remember that March marks the beginning of the peak order season for medium duty vehicles.”