Class 8 net orders started 2014 with a high-side surprise, up 51% over January 2012 and up 9% over December, according to the State of the Industry report, recently released by ACT Research Co.

Classes 5-7 also got off to a good start with orders up 33% over January 2012 and 14% over December.

“While orders were strong, one has to read between the lines to appreciate Class 8 retail sales in January,” said Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst at ACT Research Co., LLC. “Thanks to year-ending tax and sales incentives, Class 8 retail sales posted a sharp drop in January from December. But this is the case every year. However, applying seasonal adjustment gives a better picture: Adjusted Class 8 sales rose 9% m/m to a 22-month high. Strong orders pushed backlogs to a 22-month high and the backlog/build ratio jumped to 4.9 months.”

“For medium duty, all of January’s sequential order strength and most of the y/y improvement came from the heavier end of the market, Classes 6-7. Broken down by vehicle type, trucks accounted for virtually all of the sequential order increase.”