The backlog of Class 8 trucks on order to be built is getting bigger, as demand for new trucks remains strong despite a slowing economy, ACT Research said.
“While the economy continues at a rather slow pace, Class 8 truck demand continues to be strong, driven by longer-term demand factors rather than the short-term gyrations of the economy,” said Sam Kahan, ACT’s chief economist.
Truck makers, however, are hard-pressed to keep up.
“Ability to build still appears to be the overarching factor impacting 2011 Class 8 volumes,” Kahan said.
June marked the eighth straight month in which Class 8 truck orders exceeded 20,000 units, ACT Research said. That is boosting lead times for deliveries.
“Prior to the start of the run-up, Class 8 backlogs were just over three months to build,” said Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst at ACT Research. “Today, the Class 8 backlog is over six months at the current rate of build.”
About 21,200 Class 8 trucks were ordered in June, according to ACT’s preliminary data. More conclusive data will be available later in July, the company said.
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 expects “solid” heavy-truck demand through the end of 2011 and into 2012, as trucking operators replace older vehicles they kept during the recession.
Regional less-than-truckload carrier Pitt Ohio, for example, is purchasing 125 tractors and 100 trailers to replace existing equipment in its 800-truck fleet.
“During the recession, carriers deferred capital expenditures,” said Geoffrey H. Muessig, executive vice president. “Now they’ll have to buy trucks to remain viable.”