The North American Class 8 truck market continued to see growth levels not seen in nearly a decade. Industry reports cited volume numbers that were the best September mark since a robust 2005.
Preliminary orders at the end of the third quarter were up more than 27% from a year ago, making September the 20th consecutive month to reach the year-over-year improvement mark. Class 8 orders for the latest six-month period through September reached 310,000 units, which sets the 2014 selling year on track for one of the best in a decade.
While Class 8 orders will inevitably slip back into normal seasonal patterns, the trucking industry is heading into the fourth quarter with considerable momentum. Over the past 12 months, North American Class 5-8 net orders have totaled 540,000 units, according to ACT Research. That cumulative order volume represents the strongest 12-month period of North American Class 5-8 order placement since the 12 months ending November 2005.
Kenny Vieth, ACT’s President and Senior Analyst said that while September is historically “the second weakest month of the year” for Class 8 orders, the presumption was that it would be weaker, not stronger.
September also saw a continuation of a very strong order season for the trailer industry, with 32,194 net orders placed, according to ACT Research Co.
“The pace of orders continues to amaze,” said Frank Maly, director of commercial vehicle transportation analysis and research at ACT. “September new and net orders both saw 29% sequential gains, and net orders are up 86% year over year.”
The volume of trailer sales parallels the huge increases in tractor sales in 2014. While trailers and tractors have much different cycles for sales and replacement, high volumes are a definitive indication that both are in a positive mode of increased volume sales that is driven by tonnage demands across all sectors of the industry.
Year-to-date, net orders rose 51% compared to last year.
The robust selling season has not simply been in traditional segments. Multi Group Logistics recently placed an order or 600 Volvo VNL 670 tractors. The trucks are equipped with advanced safety and efficiency features, most notably Volvo’s I-Shift automated manual transmission.
The Volvos will be used as additions to the company’s current fleet and replacements for trucks retired from service. Multi Group Logistics operates nationally with 550 power units and 850 trailers.
Multi Group’s willingness to embrace the new Volvo technology shows the increased focus on the fuel efficiency the powertrains deliver, as well as the automated transmission feature, which allows the company to embrace an untapped driver market by offering the mush easier-to-drive combination on the Volvo.