Orders & Indices


FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index for November Eases from October High

FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) fell in November from the previous month’s record high. The November reading of 10.26 is still strong as rising freight rates continue to power robust trucking conditions. FTR expects the index to settle into single-digit positive readings through 2021, reflecting a healthy but more stable truck freight market.


FTR Reports Preliminary Trailer Orders Healthy Again in December at 43,700 Units

FTR reports that preliminary U.S. net trailer orders remained vibrant for the fourth consecutive month, totaling 43,700 units in December. December order activity was up 6% m/m and 155% y/y. Total trailer orders for 2020 totaled 297,000.
The order volume for Oct-Dec was the highest ever for a fourth quarter. Fleets continue to order dry and refrigerated vans in hefty quantities for delivery throughout 2021. Consumer-oriented freight growth continues to rise and should continue, pushed by the second government stimulus. Vocational trailer orders are still recovering but should improve as manufacturing grows. 


FTR Reports Preliminary North American Class 8 Net Orders for 2020 End on High Note with December Activity Remaining at Extremely High Level

FTR reports preliminary North American Class 8 net orders for December continued at an extremely high level at 52,100 units. December 2020 order activity was the fourth-highest ever and just 700 units fewer than November, up 169% over a year ago. Class 8 orders for 2020 totaled 283,000 units.

The industry has soaring momentum rolling into 2021, as freight growth is robust, freight rates are elevated, and fleet profits keep rising. Consumer-based freight remains vibrant and there are indications that manufacturing activity is finally beginning to accelerate.


FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index for October Reflects Worsening Market Conditions

FTR’s Shipping Conditions Index for October fell to a -11.6 reading reflecting sharply worsening market conditions. In October there was a sudden increase in capacity utilization which, along with a tough rate environment and higher freight demand, resulted in the lowest reading for the SCI in three years. FTR forecasts the SCI beyond October to improve but it is not expected to rise into positive territory until at least late 2022.


FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index for October Jumped to Highest Level Ever Measured

FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index for October jumped to the highest level in the nearly 30 years captured in the data to a 16.17 reading. This record comes just six months after the lowest TCI reading ever recorded (-28.66 in April) during the initial phases of the pandemic.
October’s extraordinary market conditions resulted from a sharp increase in capacity utilization, a robust rate environment, and improving freight demand. While October might prove to be the peak in this cycle, FTR forecasts positive TCI readings at least through 2021.


FTR Reports Final Trailer Orders in November at 41,400 Units

FTR reports that final U.S. net trailer orders for November came in at a strong 41,400 units, as fleets continue to lock up build slots well into 2021. While November was down 26% m/m, that comparison was against a huge October and was up 107% y/y. The order total for September-November was the second-highest three-month period ever. Trailer orders for the last twelve months now equal 270,700 units.


FTR Reports Preliminary North American Class 8 Net Orders Explode to 52,600 Units in November

FTR reports preliminary North American Class 8 net orders exploded in November to the third-highest total ever at 52,600 units. December 2020 Class 8 order activity was the best performance since August 2018. Orders were +31% m/m and almost (3) times the level of November 2019. Class 8 orders for the past twelve months continue to increase and now stand at 250,000 units.


FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index for September Reflects a Marginally Improved Environment

While the FTR Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) for September moved into a positive range, the environment for shippers is hardly good. Considering that the average SCI reading in 2019 was +6.0, the increase from -1.79 in August to +0.97 in September is nothing to cheer about. Favorable trends in volume, capacity utilization, and fuel costs offset the unfavorable rate environment during the month.
The outlook is mostly negative for shippers through the balance of 2020. After modest improvements in early 2021, FTR forecasts the SCI to turn sharply negative mid-2021 due to tighter capacity and higher shipping rates.