A strong end-of-the-year showing by heavy-duty truck orders suggests strong sales growth this year. According to preliminary data released today by forecasting firm FTR Associates, Class 8 truck total net orders for all major North American OEMs for December stand at 25,247 units—which amounts to a “slight 3% drop from the strong November activity.”

Net order activity for the final quarter of 2010 annualized to 280,324 units. That figure includes U.S., Canada, Mexico and export orders.

“Order activity for December came in on the high side of expectations and supports our view that production and sales will continue to accelerate during 2011,” said FTR president Eric Starks.

However, Starks did cautions that freight demand will “need to remain solid in early 2011 to maintain this strong order activity for Class 8 units. Additionally, other issues like the growing driver shortage as the economy improves do place a drag on fleets’ ability to add capacity. The current order activity is primarily for units to replace aging trucks,” he added.

FTR noted that its final data for December will be available later in the month as part of its North American Commercial Truck & Trailer Outlook service. Contact FTR Associates at ftr@ftrassociates.com or call 1-888-988-1699 ext 1 for more details.