Fiscal Cliff Fears Limited Truck Sales?

Posted on January 3, 2013

North America heavy-duty preliminary net orders for December represented an improvement from where orders were through most of 2012, according to ACT Research, the Indiana-based analyst of commercial vehicle markets in North America and China. The final numbers, which will be released mid-January, will approach 14,200 units for medium-duty Class 5-7 vehicles and 21,300 for heavy-duty Class 8. The preliminary net order numbers are typically accurate to within 5% of actual, ACT said.

"We suspect the looming "fiscal cliff" was a limiting factor in what is typically a strong order month for Class 8," said Kenny Vieth, ACT president and senior analyst. "With the biggest piece of fiscal uncertainty now in the rearview mirror, improved forward visibility should allow for better orders in coming months.

"The 21,300 Class 8 orders booked in the month were modestly ahead of November’s order total. Like Class 8, medium-duty vehicle orders were in line with November volumes, with 14,200 net orders booked. December represented the sixth consecutive month of year-over-year order improvement."

Looking offshore, China’s GDP decelerated to 7.4% in the third quarter, the slowest pace since 2009, according to the most recent China Commercial Vehicle Outlook, jointly published quarterly by ACT and SIC, China’s State Information Center.

"Domestic factors as well as the European debt crisis continued to exert a negative influence on China’s GDP," said Frank Maly, director of commercial vehicle transportation analysis & research at ACT. "China’s real estate investment slowed, leading to a rapid decline in overall investment growth."

Domestic sales of Chinese heavy-duty trucks continued downward in the third quarter. Bus market sales also took a turn for the worse after the 4.7% year over year sales recorded last quarter. China’s GDP growth is expected to remain in the 8% to 9% range through 2017.