February orders for new trucks in the heaviest Class 8 weight segment are surging compared with year-ago levels.
Motor carriers ordered 40,200 Class 8 trucks in February, a 76 percent gain over last February, according to estimates by industry research firm FTR.
ACT Research, another trucking consulting firm, estimates sales of 40,600 Class 8 trucks in February, a 63 percent increase compared to the same month a year earlier.
“The Class 8 market remains red-hot,” said Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles at FTR.
This is the second straight month orders have exceeded 40,000. Consecutive monthly sales of more than 40,000 last occurred in late 2014.
This is a sign that is will be a very strong year for truck manufacturers, research analysts at Stifel Financial Corp., said in a report to investors Monday. Such strong orders, which started last October, support the firm’s 325,000-unit production projection for 2018. There is room for even higher growth, Stifel said.
Fleets of all sizes are “scrambling to add trucks” in response to robust freight growth and the tight capacity crunch, Ake said.
Some fleets held orders from the fourth quarter of last year to monitor freight growth and others waited to see whether drivers would leave the industry because of the electronic logging device mandate, which tracks a trucker’s driving hours, he said. For the most part, they have not, Ake said.
“Production is ramping up and should remain vibrant into the next year,” Ake said.
Truck sales are “robust,” said Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst of ACT. February was the eighth best month ever for truck heavy-duty truck orders, Vieth said.
But February’s level eased from the previous month when manufacturers took orders for 47,200 trucks in January, FTR said.