FTR reported preliminary North American Class 8 net orders for December continued at an extremely high level at 52,100 units. December 2020 order activity was the fourth highest ever and just 700 units fewer than November, up 169 percent over a year ago. Class 8 orders for 2020 totaled 283,000 units.
The industry has soaring momentum rolling into 2021, as freight growth is robust, freight rates are elevated, and fleet profits keep rising. Consumer-based freight remains vibrant and there are indications that manufacturing activity is finally beginning to accelerate.
“The Class 8 market ended the most challenging year with a bang,” said Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles for FTR. “To get two back-to-back order months over 50,000 is a stellar accomplishment, after previously seeing orders crater to under 5,000 units in April. Now, 2021 has the potential to be an incredible recovery year.
“As the economy continues to improve, fleets are showing increasing confidence about business conditions in 2021. Profits are more than sufficient to replace used trucks and freight growth is stimulating expansion demand. Put those dynamics together, and the industry is headed toward a robust year.
“Everything right now is headed strongly in a positive direction,” said Ake. “Consumer goods remain vibrant. The manufacturing sector is showing definite signs of strength after struggling last year. The second stimulus will pump more money into the economy and accelerate the recovery. The vaccine is expected to get more people back to work and provide an economic boost. And the fleets are responding to this wave of good news by ordering trucks in near-record numbers. After being slowed significantly by the pandemic, the Class 8 market is roaring ahead at a rapid rate.”
Final data for December will be available from FTR later in the month as part of its North American Commercial Truck & Trailer Outlook service.