Truck manufacturers closed 2010 with three strong months of orders for heavy rigs as truckers replaced older equipment they hung onto during the recession.
Preliminary net orders of heavy-duty Class 8 tractors in North America increased 115 percent in December from a year ago, according to ACT Research.
"The fourth quarter was the best quarter for Class 8 vehicles since the second quarter of 2006," said Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst at ACT Research.
The commercial vehicle research firm expects truck makers to roll out 151,000 Class 8 trucks this year. That's a 27 percent increase over truck production in 2009, one of the worst years on record for truck manufacturers and their customers.
In 2012 that number should exceed 300,000, ACT Research predicts.
December was the second straight month heavy truck orders topped 25,000 units, while the quarter saw 71,000 net orders booked, the research firm said.
ACT preliminarily reported 25,500 net orders in December, compared with 26,268 orders in November -- the high point of 2010 -- and 18,914 orders in October.
The ramp up in demand "confirms production levels will increase significantly in 2011," Vieth said. That output will help rejuvenate the aging U.S. truck fleet.
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