Trailer Orders Jump as Dry Van Demand Spikes

COLUMBUS and BLOOMINGTON, IN – Net trailer orders in the U.S. during August increased sharply from July’s pace, according to two new reports, due in large part to a spike in the dry van segment.

Commercial vehicle industry data provider ACT Research estimates it was at more than 24,500 units, up 21 percent from the month before, but eased 0.4 percent on a year-over-year basis.

“The industry has seen a pull-forward of the fall/winter order season over the past couple years, and August new order volume, which was dry-van oriented, is likely a continuation of that trend,” said Frank Maly, director of commercial vehicle transportation analysis and research at ACT. “In addition to dry van order strength, up 40% month-over-month in August, flatbed orders offered a solid assist, rising 39 percent.”

Maly noted that some pressure in vocational trailers is likely over the next few months, as the full impact of the recent energy price declines is yet to be seen.

“Most trailer sectors remain within acceptable cancellation limits, but energy-sector impacted segments, such as liquid and bulk tanks, continue to be buffeted by energy price pressures,” he said. “Flatbed cancellations were elevated for the second consecutive month, with high dealer stock again blamed.”

Meantime, a separate report from the freight forecasting firm FTR estimates August U.S. trailer net orders were 23,500 units, up 15 percent versus the previous month and up 1 percent from a year ago.

Dry van and refrigerated van were the strongest segments, with very high totals for a “summer month” in August. U.S. trailer orders have now totaled 335,000 units over the past twelve months for the second straight month.

 August production was robust, reaching a per-day high for the year, according to FTR. Dry van, refrigerated van and dump trailer production is running extremely hot right now. The flatbed and tanker segments continue to cool off in terms of both orders and production.

“This was another awesome, impressive, month for the trailer industry,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “August orders were superb on a seasonal basis and production hit a high point for this cycle. We expect things to moderate at some point, but there are few signs of that yet.”


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