Trailer orders remained strong in April, according to preliminary data from FTR and ACT Research.
FTR reported orders of 22,000 units, reflecting a 20% decline from March, but an expected seasonal adjustment. Trailer orders were up 10% year-over-year. FTR said trailer orders have totaled 330,000 units over the past 12 months.
“Most fleets have their orders placed for 2018 and some dry van OEMs are booked solid for the year,” said Don Ake, vice-president, commercial vehicles. “Component shortages are increasing and may prevent all the orders in the backlog from being built this year. However, there is still capacity available for refrigerated van and vocational trailer orders, and the chugging economy should continue providing increased sales of all trailer types. This is still a decent April for trailer orders. It is higher than 2015 and signals the market will stay red-hot for a while. Some orders are already rolling into 2019. Solid freight growth and high trailer capacity utilization rates mean more trailers are needed to help relieve this capacity crunch and compensate for driver shortages.”
ACT Research’s preliminary tally was 23,100 units.
“April was the 17th consecutive month of year-over-year gains for net orders, an indication of strong fleet confidence in current business conditions, as well as a positive outlook as we move through the rest of this year. Solid freight rates and tight capacity continue to support fleet investment plans,” said Frank Maly, ACT’s director of commercial vehicle transportation analysis and research. “While net orders were down roughly 23% from March, a decline is expected as we exit the industry’s normal October through March order season. A review of the latest order season shows almost 224,000 orders were booked, up nearly 30% from a year ago.”
Maly said the industry’s average backlog is now deep into the fourth quarter, and that fleets placing trailer orders now may not receive them until 2019.