Record-setting demand for Class 8 trucks over past six months

Class 8 truck orders continued to be strong in March, setting an unprecedented six-month streak of order levels above 40,000 units. Preliminary figures from FTR show March orders were down 9% from February, but up by 33,000 units compared to pandemic-impacted March 2020. Class 8 orders have now totaled 372,000 units over the past 12 months, FTR reported.

However, supply shortages are hindering truck makers’ ability to meet current demand.

“There is tremendous pent-up demand being generated due to the constrictions on supply. The pressure in the market is building, as orders continue to flow into OEMs at a record pace. To have this level of orders roll in for half a year is impressive and unprecedented,” said Don Ake, vice-president of commercial vehicles for FTR.

“The component shortages of semiconductors and other parts are causing problems throughout trucking. Fleets desperately need many new trucks right now to keep up with demand, but production throughput is being constricted. It appears the industry will be playing catch-up well into the first half of next year.

“There are no clear indications of when the supply-chain issues will be resolved,” he added. “We expect computer chips to be in short supply for at least a few more months. Worker shortages at key suppliers should get alleviated some by the vaccines. The backup at the ports will also take a few months to resolve.”

ACT Research reported Classes 5-7 orders totaled 31,400 units, up 19% from February and more than double year-ago levels. “Fanning the flames of an already robust economy, US£1.9 trillion in additional stimulus has started filtering its way into consumers’ pocketbooks,” said Steve Tam, ACT’s vice-president. “In addition, the prospect of a £2T infrastructure bill has consumers and businesses setting their sights higher for both the near- and mid-terms. And, included in that outlook appears to be a need for an increasing number of commercial vehicles.”

Tam said Class 8 demand was “well above” replacement levels in March.