As reported in Transport Topics, the Class 8 manufacturing environment remained strong in May. Orders were down 38% from April, but still ahead of last May by 85%. The industry should be on track to build somewhere around 250K trucks this year, the most since 2006.

Manufacturers, dealers, and analysts continue to state that new orders are for replacement of older equipment rather than expansion of fleet size. With the economy now pretty clearly in a slower growth mode, we seem to have made our way through the sweet part of the recovery without adding substantially to the size of the national trucking fleet.

On the bright side, the manufacturing backlog essentially takes us to the end of the year if not beyond. As such, barring any unexpected economic disaster that results in order cancellations, jobs and corporate revenues connected to truck manufacturing should be safe at least until then. At the same time, with all relevant measures showing a moderate slowdown in the recovery, it might not be a bad thing that the build rate is constrained by parts supply.