Class 8 truck and trailer production isn’t expected to slow down next year, according to FTR, which this week raised its 2019 forecast for both.
North American Class 8 factory shipments are now forecast to be 350,000 units in 2019, up 8% year over year, and U.S. commercial trailer production (not including medium-duty lowbeds) to be 310,000 units — just under this year’s expected volume. FTR’s medium duty (class 4-7) forecast has not changed, the research company expects factory shipments to be relatively flat next year.
“We increased our forecasts for 2019 based on our models indicating continued strong freight growth generating robust demand for equipment through Q3 of next year,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “OEM component suppliers have also done a much better job delivering on time, allowing production rates to increase. If this continues, we expect a record Class 8 build in 2019 for a year not impacted by a pre-buy. Trailers could also set a record, if sales are steady through the end of the year.”
Class 8 orders set a record during 2018’ third quarter, pushing backlogs almost 7% higher than the previous record, according to FTR. Trailer orders destroyed the monthly record in September by almost 10,000 units, and backlogs are barely below the all-time high.