Preliminary figures on net truck orders for March released today by ACT Research Co. LLC (ACT) showed that Class 8 orders “came in below expectations for a second consecutive month.”

According to ACT, the final numbers, which will be released mid-April, will approach 20,000 units for heavy duty Class 8 trucks and 13,500 for médium-duty Class 5-7 vehicles. The research firm noted that its preliminary net order numbers are typically accurate to within 5% of actual.

ACT pointed out that while Class 8 numbers had softened, medium-duty orders were “in line with expectations” and right in the middle of the range of orders since mid 2011.

But in what ACT regards as typically one of the seasonally strongest months of the year, Class 8 orders came in below expectations for a second consecutive month. On a seasonally adjusted basis, Class 8 orders were the weakest since September 2010 at 18,400 units.

 “As was the case in February, we attribute softness in Class 8 orders to near-term phenomena including a pullback in confidence brought about by the fall-off in freight at the beginning of 2012, coupled with the subsequent run-up in diesel prices since the beginning of the year, and higher reported Class 8 prices on 2013MY equipment,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT president & senior analyst.

“Beyond those reasons,” he added, “actual and anecdotal data that we track continue to be supportive of a healthy Class 8 market.”

ACT is a publisher of new and used commercial vehicle (CV) industry data, market analysis and forecasting services for the North American market, as well as the China CV market. According to ACT, its CV services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers as well as the banking and investment community.