Net orders for heavy trucks surged 31 percent in April from March, an ordering pace that is creating a bulging backlog that will strain truck production lines.
North American Class 8 net orders totaled 38,100 units in April, the highest level since March 2006, pushing the order backlog past 126,000 units, ACT Research said.
The April spike followed a 20 percent jump in net orders in March, when U.S. truck makers received 28,900 orders, according to the vehicle market research firm.
“As has been the case throughout 2011, the (manufacturing) industry’s challenge is ramping up production,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT president and senior analyst.
“The industry’s ability to build trucks, rather than demand for trucks, will be the constraining factor on Class 8 production this year,” Vieth said in a statement.
Increased freight shipping, trucking profits and pent-up replacement demand helped drive April’s order spike, along with rising used truck prices, Vieth said.
But translating demand into trucks won’t be easy. Navistar Senior Vice President Jim Hebe recently said there will be a gap between orders and finished trucks.
Hebe told reporters earlier this month parts and components suppliers would be hard pressed to keep up with the demand from truck manufacturers.
Research firm FTR Associates has raised the same question. “There are already some shortages in the supply chain,” said Eric Starks, president of FTR.