In September North American carriers ordered 22,100 Class 8 trucks, the heavy-duty vehicles used to haul freight long distances, according to a preliminary report from freight transport analysts FTR. That was a 7-percent improvement compared with August and a 62-percent boost from the same period in 2016.
The numbers reflect a modest but continued recovery in the Class-8 market compared with the last year, analysts say. In 2016 freight demand suffered as manufacturers and retailers worked through excess inventory, “and the equipment market reflected that,” said Don Ake, FTR’s vice president of commercial vehicles.
But big-rig orders have been going up since May, as small and medium-size trucking firms expand their fleets, said Steve Tam, vice president at ACT Research, which reported similar numbers. The biggest order bump typically comes in October and November, when big carriers make their plans to buy or trade in vehicles.
In recent months freight pricing has improved, after a long stretch of stubbornly low rates when a glut of vehicles gave carriers little leverage with shippers.
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