According to US analysts, ACT Research, heavy duty class 8 truck orders in North American have apparently continued the trend of year-over-year gains with some strong sales again in May

ACT  says its preliminary data showed orders increased 49.7 per cent  to 23,200 units from 15,500 during the same period in 2023. They also increased 48.7 per cent  on  the 15,600 units sold in North America in April. . Every month this year has seen a year-over-year increase except March in the North American market.

“Market observers may recall that demand typically slows in Q2,” said ACT Research vice president, Steve Tam.

“However, surprises are always lurking. Class 8 preliminary order intake provided May’s drama, effectively zigging when they were expected to zag,” Tam added

Tam added that order activity was impacted amid ample open build slots in the third and fourth quarters and truck manufacturers trying to get into balance for impending pre-buy.

“While we do not have complete visibility at this point, the strength is presumably driven by private and vocational fleets, supplemented by an ongoing healthy appetite for equipment in Mexico,” Tam said.

FTR Transportation Intelligence issued a report that said Class 8 preliminary net orders for May came in at 18,900 units, which is up 25 per cent month-over-month and 37 per cent year-on-year. The report noted this level of orders is above recent demand trends and the average over the past decade for May. It concluded that this level further abates rapid demand decline concerns.

“OEMs are actively filling build slots at a steady pace,” said  senior analyst of commercial vehicles at FTR, Dan Moyer,.

“Along with the month-over-month increase, the fact that orders were up significantly from the May 2023 level indicates that the market remains on a solid footing despite near-term challenges. While all OEMs experienced order growth, vocational markets stood out as particularly strong compared to on-highway,” he said.

Moyer added that American fleets remain willing to invest in new equipment despite stagnant freight markets. He noted that order levels slightly exceeded historical averages and seasonal expectations, and he is anticipating a replacement level of output by the end of 2024. FTR also found Class 8 orders for the past 12 months totaled 273,900 units.

“We saw a stronger month of May industrywide than what many predictions would have suggested,” said vice president of strategy, marketing and brand management at Volvo Trucks North America, Magnus Koeck.

“Stronger-than-anticipated numbers can be attributed to several factors: OEMs are opening their remaining order board slots for 2024, and the private fleets are slowly starting to engage in an early 2027 pre-buy. The early movers on the pre-buy may also indicate that the pre-buy effect will be a little stronger during the last six months of 2024 than earlier anticipated,” Koeck said

Volvo Trucks North America is launching its new Class 8 VNL prime mover, and the redesign is the first major overhaul of its flagship over-the-road truck since 2017.

Koeck considers it the most significant product launch in the history of the company in the USA and anticipating stronger third- and fourth-quarter numbers this year because of the launch and other product lines.

“Class 8 prime mover  orders increased more than 42 per cent for the combined U.S. and Canada markets compared with April,” said , president of Mack Trucks North America, Jonathan Randall.

“While the tractor market has faced headwinds from low freight pricing, the economy continues to grow on trend with solid orders. The vocational market remains strong, influenced by robust government construction spending,” Randall added.