“Extraordinary” Class 8 Truck Market Leaves Buyers With Few Options

Little Rock, Arkansas – Class 8 North American truck sales came up short of 20,000 units for the third consecutive month.

FTR reports preliminary Class 8 orders for March came in at 15,200 units while ACT Research reports 15,700 orders were booked.

March 2019 was the lowest March for orders since 2010. March orders were 8% below February and down 67% y/y.

Class 8 orders for the past 12 months have now totaled 397,000 units.


Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles, commented, “These are extraordinary market conditions. Most fleets ordered well in advance of their need for trucks in 2019. OEM production slots were scarce in 2018 and supplier constraints caused disruptions in supply, so fleets didn’t want to get shutout this year.”

Demand is still strong, but supply is limited with all of the choice build slots for 2019 filled. Fleets that need trucks are basically taking whatever is available.  Backlogs are rapidly declining, as the market tries to rebalance and establish some semblance of normality.

“Now so many build slots have been reserved, fleets that are currently placing orders for delivery this year don’t have many options,” Ake said.

Steve Tam, ACT’s Vice President, also weighed in. “Even though demand is a shadow of its former self, slowing order intake belies current conditions,” he said.


Tam continued, “Admittedly, economic and freight growth are slowing, but both are still growing. And in the context of retreat from record levels, it is no wonder truck buyers continue to pursue incremental profits, as evidenced by the number of unbuilt units in the backlog.”

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