According to ACT Research’s (ACT) latest release of the North American Commercial Vehicle OUTLOOK, current Class 8 build rates suggest upside to the 2019 forecast, but large new truck inventories and deteriorating freight and rate conditions suggest erring on the side of caution remains the right call: When the change comes, it is likely to come fast.
ACT Research released the June installment of the ACT Freight Forecast, U.S. Rate and Volume OUTLOOK report covering the truckload, intermodal, LTL and last mile sectors.
Preliminary North America Class 8 net order data show the industry booked 10,800 units in May, dropping 27% from April, but down a more significant 70% from year-ago May. Note that these numbers are preliminary. Complete industry data for May, including final order numbers, will be published by ACT Research in mid-June.
According to this quarter’s issue of ACT Research’s Trailer Components Report, trailer industry net orders have eased meaningfully since November of 2018, as year-over-year-comparisons have now been in the red for the last five months, but order weakness is not indicative of fleets’ unwillingness to invest.
According to the recently released N.A. Commercial Vehicle On-Highway Engine OUTLOOK, published by ACT Research and Rhein Associates, Class 8 production is expected to continue growing in 2019, before an anticipated drop late in the year and into 2020. Diesel is still the dominate power source and vocational truck demand is more stable than tractors demand.
The average price of total used Class 8 trucks in April was up 6% month-over-month and 12% higher year-to-date, according to the latest release of the State of the Industry: U.S. Classes 3-8 Used Trucks, published by ACT Research. The report also indicated used Class 8 same dealer sales volumes fell 6% m/m and were 15% lower compared to April 2018. On a month-over-month basis, average mileage dropped 2%, while average age was down 4%.
New US trailer orders of 18.6k were up 4% month-over-month, but after accounting for cancellations, net orders slid to 14.7k units, down 6% from March. Year-to-date, net orders are 37% below last year, according to this month’s issue of ACT Research’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailer Report. Near-record backlogs have filled 2019 build slots for many OEMs, and there continues to be some resistance toward booking orders into next year, resulting in the modest order volumes.
In the release of its Commercial Vehicle Dealer Digest, ACT Research noted that the overall economic picture remains largely unchanged, with growth moderating in 2019 from last year’s vigorous pace. The trade war with China, which had been put on the back burner earlier this year, was put back on high heat at the beginning of this month. The report provides monthly analysis on transportation trends, equipment markets, and the economy.
According to ACT Research’s recently released Transportation Digest, Class 8 retail sales and build remain at cycle highs, but signs are multiplying that the market momentum will start declining during the second half of this year. At the same time, net trailer orders in March were the weakest order volume since July of 2017, as many OEMs continue to be unwilling to fully open 2020 orderboards.
ACT’s preliminary estimate for April 2019 net trailer orders is 14,500 units. Final volume will be available later this month. Our methodology allows us to generate a preliminary estimate of the market that should be within +/- 3% of the final order tally.