Class 8 truck orders rang in the new year at 21,600 units, 20 percent more than January last year.

According to preliminary numbers compiled by FTR, January’s mark continues a consistent trend that began last October. ACT Research notes January’s numbers were a 14-month high.

Class 8 orders for the past three months now annualize to 248,000 units, with backlogs expected to rise for the third straight month, according to Don Ake, Vice President of Commercial Vehicles at FTR.

“The order increase will help to boost Q1 build rates and is more good news for the Class 8 market,” he says. “It is unusual for January orders to be higher than any of the preceding Q4 months.  This indicates fleets are more confident in market conditions than they were four months ago.  OEMs should begin to fill in their production schedules and now February builds look to be much better than previous months.”

“This is the time of year when big fleets are in the market scheduling replacement orders for the coming year,” adds ACT President and Senior Analyst Kenny Vieth. “Rising 21 percent versus a year-ago January, this is only the second positive year-over-year comparison in 23-months.”