FTR Associates reports that April new truck orders fell for the fourth month in a row, to 13,200 units. This result is notable because it is the first month since July, 2010 in which orders were lower than sales.
Due to the varied nature of new truck delivery schedules, as well as fungible dealer inventory levels, the order rate really has no statistical relationship to the sales rate. As such, we cannot make any definitive predictions based on these two factors. However, a multi-month downward trend in orders suggests a decrease in demand.

At the same time, keep in mind that the summer months have historically been a slow period for orders (although the recession and multiple pre-buy periods of the past decade have made this observation somewhat unreliable). Also, as stated, dealer inventory could be on the rise, so there’s not much reason to expect sales to drop dramatically. A rise in inventory could mean increased incentives on new trucks, but at this point the gap between new and used pricing is still large enough to make any downward pressure on the used side minimal at best.

Bottom line – economic fundamentals do not support a reduction in the size of the nation’s trucking fleet. As such, the recent downward trend in orders is most likely mainly due to a move to even more cautious purchasing strategies. Cautious or not, the fact remains that the nation’s fleet is the oldest it’s been in over 30 years. We might not yet be ready for expansion, but replacement will continue to keep new truck sales from dropping dramatically.