Trailer Orders Decline 30% from Year Earlier

BLOOMINGTON, IN – Net trailer orders in the U.S. posted big declines in April, according to new figures released by the freight transportation forecasting firm FTR.

The level of 17,770 trailers is down 19% from March and 30% lower compared to April 2014

FTR reported order activity has cooled off in large part because many major fleets placed their orders in last year to cover 2015 requirements, but orders were also hit by general economic factors.

However, even with the decline, trailer orders have totaled more than 340,000 the past 12 months creating a still-healthy backlog, though 10% below January peak.

Meantime, trailer build in April continued at a good pace, up 24% year-over-year.

Dry van and flatbed orders were impacted the most by the April decline. Dry van orders were down 32% month-over-month, with build falling more than 6% from March.

Flatbed orders were the lowest since July, but build remained strong at these manufacturers, according to FTR.

Both orders and build remained solid for refrigerated vans as well as liquid and bulk tankers.

Dump trailer orders started to slide in April, however, production remained strong.

“The traditional summer slump arrived early this year. This is not surprising considering the huge amount of orders placed late last year and the big backlogs,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “However, reports indicate the trailer market is cooling off, and the increased number of cancellations is definitely a concern. Order rates should keep falling through the summer months. Build rates are still robust, but most OEMs did not match their great March numbers.”

He said all this indicates fleets are not as anxious to take deliveries, which is consistent with a slowing U.S. economy and a moderating freight market.

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