ECONOMIC WATCH: Trailer market ends 2019 with weak orders

by Truck News

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Trailer orders fell in December to 16,500 units, according to preliminary data from FTR, marking their worst month since August.

Orders were down 17% from November, and 41% year-over-year. December brought total orders for 2019 to 203,000 units.

FTR blamed cautious fleets, who are placing smaller orders with shorter lead times than are typical this time of year. A weaker manufacturing segment, uncertainty over trade tariffs, and a tumultuous political situation are also to blame.

“Freight is forecast to grow only about 1% this year, putting little pressure on fleets to boost trailer capacity as they did the last few years,” said Don Ake, FTR’s vice-president, commercial vehicles. “However, total freight levels remain elevated and trailer production for 2020, although down significantly from 2019’s record year, is forecast to be good from a historical perspective. Fleets are expected to continue to replace old trailers based on their standard trade-in cycles. Van trailers sales, spurred by strong consumer spending, are still doing better than the vocational segments.”

FTR projects trailer orders to remain at about 20,000 units per month for a while.

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