After a month-on-month improvement in December, US market orders of Class 8 heavy trucks plunged by 35% in January, and 48% compared to January 2015.

Preliminary numbers issued by ACT Research show expected total orders of just 18,200 units in January. The company says a weak manufacturing sector has negatively affected freight capacity utilisation.

The dramatic fall was, however, anticipated by most analysts as equivalent numbers in 2015 were close to a record, so the initial dip for 2016 was not unexpected.

Orders for the smaller Class 5-7 category are not yet official but expected to rise to 18,200. This would be a year-on-year gain of 3%.

For the moment, it is too early to tell how much of an impact the fall in orders for Class 8 trucks may yet have on PACCAR, Volvo Group and Daimler trucks. The first of the three has just reported record revenues and profits for CY2015, while the Swedish bus and truck maker saw its worldwide net sales up by 3% in the fourth quarter, and Daimler Trucks also had a positive year.