Class 8 orders slow as 2021 build slots fill

Class 8 orders cooled in May, reflecting the filling of build slots this year and OEMs’ reticence to begin taking orders for 2022. FTR reports preliminary figures of 23,600 Class 8 orders, down 32% from April but still totaling 420,000 units over the past 12 months.

“Most fleets have ordered all the trucks they need for 2021. They are getting frustrated because production is unable to keep up with demand.

Carriers need more trucks on the road now, but semiconductor and other component shortages continue to restrict production,” said Don Ake, FTR’s vice-president – commercial vehicles. “There is tremendous pent-up demand being generated in this market. Freight is growing at a brisk pace, but the supply chain bottlenecks slow the flow of new trucks coming off the production line.

This, in turn, is keeping the spot market overheated. OEMs are uncertain how to price 2022 models. The prices for steel, aluminum, and rubber have spiked after the economic restart.

It is possible we will see record order volumes when the OEMs open their 2022 order boards.” ACT Research reported preliminary orders of 22,900 units, while Classes 5-7 orders totaled 24,800 – a 14% decrease from April. “As we have been tracking for several months, medium- and heavy-duty backlogs for the remainder of 2021 were essentially filled with April’s orders,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “With 2022 order books not yet opened, it is not particularly surprising that orders for both segments fell to levels last seen in August 2020.

We reiterate that the order pullback aligns with expectations, driven by the supply of open build slots in 2021, rather than demand for equipment.”