Class 8 truck net orders for January showed improvement over December’s numbers, but still were down year-over-year as this year has gotten off to a slow start.

“We’ve been forecasting a weak start to 2013 and the numbers we’re now seeing, while improving, are still below where they should be for a solid recovery,” said Eric Starks, president of FTR Associates. “Washington has resolved part of the looming fiscal cliff crisis in the short term and business investment picked up in the fourth quarter, which is a good sign that businesses are willing to spend money. Hopefully, more fleets will take these as positive signs to now go ahead and place some orders for equipment that they need.”

FTR said that preliminary numbers for January came in at 22,235, 7% higher than December but still down 11% from January 2012.

Orders for Class 8 vehicles have been above the 20,000 mark for the past four months, showing some strength after a soft period mid-year 2012, the firm said.

Preliminary order numbers are for all major North American OEMs.