Heavy-duty Class 8 commercial vehicle net orders inched up in August 2009 to their highest level since November 2008.

Despite sequential improvement, Class 8 net orders were still down 30% year over year, according to the State of the Industry report released by ACT Research Co LLC. Medium-duty Class 5-7 net orders were up 75% from the prior year, influenced by a large order for buses and strong pullback in cancellations.

August new Class 8 orders climbed 15% from July. However, cancellations remained elevated again in August, bringing the net order number down to a less robust month-over-month gain.

The Class 5-7 vehicle net orders for August varied dramatically by vehicle type. Medium-duty truck orders rose to a five-month high, but were down 26% from August 2008. Buses and step vans posted very strong net orders in August, although there is little to suggest these higher levels are sustainable.

“Even though hauling capacity has been coming out of the market through below-replacement-level retail sales and strong exports of used equipment, Class 8 overcapacity remains an issue limiting near-term demand, ” said Kenny Vieth, partner and senior analyst with ACT. “While order activity has begun to make modest strides, there is no suggestion that demand is poised for a sustained breakout above replacement level volumes any time soon.”