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Truck orders fall for fifth time in six months, sales pace 'unsustainable' in current freight environment

For the fifth time in the last six months, Class 8 truck orders dropped in North America. Preliminary numbers released by FTR Tuesday show 19,000 units were booked in March, down 18% month-over-month and 11% year-over-year. 

FTR Chairman Eric Starks said while recent orders have softened, order activity is in line with market expectations and are on pace for an annualized rate of 340,000 units over the last six months.

"With build activity over the last several months hovering near 27,000 units, backlogs likely fell during the month," he added. "Given that backlogs are sitting at such high levels, however, it is difficult to ascertain if there is a fundamental weakening in the Class 8 equipment market given order activity levels."

The incoming order rate for March was 228,000 annualized, right in the sweet spot for replacement demand levels, and Starks said order numbers overall were solid "and will have little impact on production levels over the next two quarters. Given the uncertainty in the economy, this is a welcome sign that demand has not collapsed and that fleets still have access to capital.”

Class 8 orders have totaled 301,500 units over the last 12 months and with nearly all build slots filled for 2023, slower order activity was anticipated. Starks said reduced order levels will likely continue through the normally seasonally weak summer order period. Starks added that fleets continue to request equipment, and quote activity has been in line with past seasonal behavior.