As expected, new orders for Class 8 trucks are plummeting as the remaining slots for building ’06 models fill up. According to A.C.T. Research, new orders in June numbered 21,716 units—a 58% drop compared with 52,200 units in March and a 26% month-over-month decline from 29,340 in May.

“Our guess is that you might see a few late summer and early fall months when orders will drop to around 13,000,” Jim Meil, chief economist for Eaton Corp. told FleetOwner. All the '06 slots "are pretty much filled," he said.

OEMs are now only taking orders for ’07 model trucks, which are equipped with costlier emissions reductions technology to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s smog standards, and that will hurt sales in 2007.

Paccar, parent of Kenworth and Peterbilt, in its second quarter earnings report said that strong freight conditions are likely to mitigate some of the sales falloff.

“Paccar expects U.S. and Canadian Class 8 sales to be 310,000-320,000 units for 2006,” said Tom Plimpton, Paccar president. “It is expected that 2007 industry retail sales will be at a reasonable level of 200,000-250,000 units, as the industry acclimates to the higher powertrain costs required to meet EPA 2007 emission regulations. The vibrant U.S. economy, with consensus GDP growth forecast of nearly 3% in 2007, will have a positive impact on new truck demand, balancing the downward pressure due to higher component cost.”

In June Kenny Vieth, a partner at A.C.T. Research, predicted that Class 8 production will fall roughly 40% to 207,000 units in 2007 from 355,000-365,000 units in 2006.

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