Well, the December trailer order numbers are in and they put an exclamation point on the best year ever for net trailer orders. According to FTR, 360,000 trailers were ordered in 2014, “by far” the best year on record. December was the second strongest month ever, with 45,500 units ordered.
But interestingly, fleets aren’t just ordering more trailers, they’re also ordering better trailers, according to dealers I interviewed in recent weeks. Here are five high-end spec’s that are getting more attention from Canadian buyers:
Disc brakes: Interest in disc brakes is greater in Canada than the US, dealers told me. They’re still seen as being cost-prohibitive on some multi-axle configurations but on tandem trailers the upcharge is deemed worthwhile by many fleets. Disc brakes still require some hands-on attention but they perform better than drums and a brake job can be done much quicker.
Tire inflation systems: While Canada has led the way in disc brake adoption, US fleets have been quicker to embrace tire inflation systems. Early versions of the systems may have been deemed by many Canadian buyers to be too vulnerable to damage in our harsh conditions. That’s changing as more reliable systems have been brought to market. One major benefit: If you get a puncture, you can often keep enough air in the tire to limp back to the shop and avoid a service call.
Rust-resistant materials: Crossmembers, landing gear, door frames, wheels – these are all components that can be ordered with special treatments to prevent corrosion from setting in. Preventing rust will extend the life of the equipment and enhance resale value.
Landing gear: Landing gear itself has gotten better as fleets have looked to extend the life-cycles of their trailers to 15 years and beyond. Lube-free landing gear is available, lifetime warranties can be had from some suppliers and rust-proof coatings are available to keep corrosion at bay.
Aerodynamics: Trailer side fairings are old hat. Bring on the trailer tails and undertray devices. These fairings are now getting some attention from fleets that have already equipped their trailers with side fairings and now want to make that box even more slippery.
I’ll have more on this topic in the February issues of Truck News and Truck West.
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