ACT Research released data indicating that fourth-quarter orders of Class 5-7 trucks and buses returned to 2008 first-quarter levels. This category includes most Type A, Type C and some Type D school buses.
"Strength was broad-based throughout trucks, buses, RVs, and step vans," said Kenny Vieth, ACT's president and senior analyst. "As for Class 8, orders above the level of build allowed the backlog to rise for a third consecutive month in December."
In the 2013 STN Buyer's Guide published earlier this month, ACT's Steve Tam said that the company was forecasting that the total 2012 bus production would increase by almost 21 pecent over 2011. STN research found that the Type-C market saw the largest increase 21,563 units, a 15-percent jump from 2011. But figure remains below historical numbers over the past decade, which saw numbers reach as high as 30,641 for the production year of Nov. 1 2005 through Oct. 31, 2006.
Overall, school bus manufacturers reported a totlal of 33,034 units produced during the 2011-2012 year, the most since 40,670 in 2009-2010 but far below the 47,915 produced in 2005-2006. STN's figures only represent actual school buses manufactured but not sold.
"It's (still) been a good year for the bus industry, and predominantly that is being driven by the school bus," Tam told STN in early December.
The ACT information is contained in the firm's "State of the Industry" report.