In what is typically one of the seasonally strongest months of the year, preliminary Class 8 orders came in below expectations in March for a second consecutive month, according to ACT Research Co., LLC (ACT). On a seasonally adjusted basis, Class 8 orders were the weakest since September 2010 at 18,400 units.

The final numbers, which will be released mid-April, will approach 20,000 units for Class 8 trucks and 13,500 for Classes 5-7 vehicles. The preliminary net order numbers are typically accurate to within 5% of actual. Medium-duty orders were in line with expectations and right in the middle of the range of orders since mid 2011.

“As was the case in February, we attribute softness in Class 8 orders to near-term phenomena including a pullback in confidence brought about by the fall-off in freight at the beginning of 2012, coupled with the subsequent run-up in diesel prices since the beginning of the year, and higher reported Class 8 prices on 2013MY equipment, said Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst, ACT Research. “Beyond those reasons, actual and anecdotal data that we track continue to be supportive of a healthy Class 8 market.”

Related content: 2012 Strong for Class 8, Despite Slight Decline: ACT