ECONOMIC WATCH: April trailer orders set historic low

by Today's Trucking

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – April trailer orders plunged to 300 units, the lowest level in the modern era, according to preliminary data from FTR.

Orders are from U.S. manufacturers, and include those from Canadian carriers. April’s orders were down 95% month-over-month, and 98% compared to last April.

The dry van segment was hit particularly hard, FTR reported, while vocational orders remained tepid.

“Fleets remain in a severe wait-and-see posture until they can evaluate the damage done to the freight markets from the pandemic,” said Don Ake, vice-president, commercial vehicles with FTR. “Since the recovery from the economic crisis is highly dependent on the status of the health crisis, there is a huge amount of uncertainty in the trailer market. Buying activity appears to be on hold until the fleets can see a clear path forward. The bigger fleets will resume replacing old trailers as soon as they see the economic restrictions lifted and freight growing again.”

Ake said a recovery won’t happen until fleet confidence improves.

“Carriers saw freight softening at the beginning of the year and then it cratered due to the recession caused by Covid-19. There are still way too many uncertainties present for fleets to buy new trailers in large numbers,” Ake said. “They will take the minimum number of trailers needed in the short-run and then increase quantities dependent on the speed and size of the recovery. Orders should improve soon, but are expected to remain modest for the next few months.”

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  • I understand that some new reefer and certain disaster response units are still being built. The trucking industry and the airline especially small airline that serve certain smaller places and also haul cargo. A number of wheelchair taxi and bus companies are also in trouble. We the people of Canada need a complete review of all transport and insurance companies and policies. I hate government control but minimum and maximum fares and freight rates as well as car and truck rental rates need to happen or we will loose over 10 taxi companies and 5 smaller airlines and 50 trucking companies and over a 1,000 owner ops in Canada 70 small busing companies as well as 3 rental companies. Several trailer manufacturing companies are in my opinion in financial trouble at point in time.