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December Class 8 orders rank fourth highest in history

Preliminary net Class 8 truck orders in December were the fourth highest in history at 50,900 units.

The surge in bookings reflects continued demand for consumer goods, an awakening of the manufacturing sector and robust fleet profits from tight freight capacity. A driver shortage is worsened by closed driving schools. Other drivers are sidelined because they failed drug tests. All of these factor into higher per-mile freight rates.

“As we at ACT [Research] can often be heard saying, ‘When carriers make money, they buy trucks,’” ACT President and senior analyst Kenny Vieth told FreightWaves.

The order strength in the last four months of the year made up for a stagnant order book in April and May, when the first wave of the coronavirus shuttered truck manufacturing plants and disrupted supply chains. But a V-shaped recovery took hold in late summer and plants laid on overtime to make up for delayed orders.

December orders were down 2% from November. But they were up 153% compared to December 2019, according to ACT data.

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