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Class 8 orders in August climbed to the highest level in 2022 as they rebounded smartly from July’s low point of the year, but trailed far behind the year-ago level, ACT Research reported, citing truck makers’ preliminary data.
Orders reached 21,600, compared with 37,096 in the 2021 period, according to ACT, which will revise the total based on truck makers’ final tallies.
July’s final orders were 11,025.
“Based on reading the tea leaves [for August], it looks like someone else opened up the doors for 2023 orders,” ACT Research Vice President Steve Tam said. He did not identify which truck maker that was. Paccar Inc. reported in July it was filling in orders for Q1.
At the end of July, the latest data, about 24,000 units were scheduled for delivery in Q1 in the total backlog of about 206,000, according to ACT.
“Clearly there is volume getting into 2023, but we’re also looking at Q2 and we have [seen] 345 orders for Q2,” Tam said in early September.
“So nobody is going very far out on the limb. There are still challenges out there,” he said. “We still have new things that are coming up short” and limiting production.
ACT Research: August Order Rebound Indicates July Weakness an Outlier, not a Canaryhttps://t.co/JplHuKS2ac— ACT Research (@actresearch) September 2, 2022
FTR pegged preliminary orders at 21,400.
“This was a good sign. 2023 ordering has begun but is still very measured. This is all they can do, just keep the number in this range,” which mimicked the levels from December through March, said Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles at FTR.
FTR forecast the Q1 North American build will be 77,000 units, which works out on average to 25,700 a month.
Meanwhile, profitable trucking companies are in business to grow; that just takes quite a bit longer now.
“You can only grow at the pace of getting the new trucks,” said Pete Nativo, vice president of fleet solutions at Oakley Transport.
Lake Wales, Fla.-based Oakley is a bulk carrier that specializes in liquid and food-grade transportation. It operates about 725 trucks, all from Volvo Trucks North America.
“We have an order for next year for 150 trucks for both growth and replacement,” Nativo said. “They have committed to 10 a month and to start building them in January. But if they can get us some this year, they will. We’re holding off on selling our trucks until new trucks are delivered to make sure we have enough equipment to meet our new drivers’ needs.”
Oakley ordered 50 trucks at the beginning of the year and had received only 33 by August.
“Ten more were supposed to be built for us by the end of August,” he said on the last day of that month. “Then there would be seven left they owe us. They are supposed to be building those in the first or second week in September. Of course, we were supposed to get everything by March.”
Everyone in the industry would like to have new equipment arrive faster and in greater numbers, he added.
“But I think it’s become, maybe, a little bit easier to accept because everybody is seeing the same thing,” Nativo said.
But it’s not just about getting trucks. It is lighting switches, drywall and doors for remodeling terminals, he said.
Oil products have been difficult to come by, too. Nativo is having to source those from whomever he can as his longtime supplier cannot provide all he needs when he needs it.
“I’ve just been trying to make sure I’ve got some kind of secondary backup,” he said. “It’s been a crazy year for everybody.”
Another carrier is starting to receive trucks from an order it placed much earlier, and they arrived with the correct specs it wanted.
“We are finally receiving the first 17 trucks of our 50-truck order since the PO was signed in December 2019,” said Garrett Bowers, CEO of Bowers Trucking & Logistics Inc. “Since that time, we thankfully only incurred an 8% steel surcharge added to the price of the trucks from the day we signed for them.”
The Ponca City, Okla.-based carrier — which notes it is the only contract carrier in Oklahoma licensed to haul for the Department of Defense — purchased Mack Anthems and is slated to receive at least 33 units this year from Bruckner Truck Group of Tulsa, with the balance to follow in Q1, Bowers said.
In this special edition of RoadSigns, hosts Seth Clevenger and Mike Freeze provide an inside look at Transport Topics’ 2022 Top 100 Private Carriers list. Tune in above or by going to RoadSigns.ttnews.com.
“Our drivers are happy, seeing as how we had to age our previous fleet from our routine 400-ish thousand-mile intervals to beyond 600,000,” Bowers said.
He has a steady pipeline of drivers set to start in September, with at least three every week in orientation — mostly company drivers who will pull a range of van, refrigerated or flatbed freight, earning an average of 70 cents per mile and $87,000 in annual average pay.
Bowers Trucking ranks No. 29 on the Transport Topics list of the top flatbed/heavy specialized carriers in North America
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