Compared to the same month last year trailer orders in July were up 40 according to FTR Photo Sean KilcarrAmerican Trucker

Compared to the same month last year, trailer orders in July were up 40%, according to FTR. (Photo: Sean Kilcarr/American Trucker)

Trailer orders expected to lag as summer ends

However, research firms believe another surge in trailer orders may begin in September.

While trailer orders declined month-over-month July, according to the latest data, and are expected to keep dropping in August, the year-over-year trend is far stronger – with orders expected to pick back up starting in September.

Research firm FTR Transportation Intelligence said its data indicated final July net trailer orders reached 13,400 units, falling 29% when compared to June’s number.

Meanwhile, ACT Research said its preliminary estimate for net trailer orders hit 14,450 units for the month of July.

However, compared to the same month last year, trailer orders in July were up 40%, while order activity “met expectations in all segments” except for flatbeds, which took a bit of a hit, noted Don Ake, FTR’s vice president of commercial vehicles.

“The trailer market had a typical month of July,” he said in a statement. “Orders usually fall as fleet managers take a break and turn their focus to next year. The bright spots this month are the strong flatbed orders, in that production did not fall much from June’s impressive totals. This indicates production should be fairly steady the rest of the year.”

Frank Maly, ACT’s director of CV transportation analysis and research, forecast a similar trend.

“We saw continued strong year-over-year net order performance last month. As has been the pattern, solid dry van commitments helped lead the total industry, with significant year-over-year gains in flatbed trailers occurring as well,” he said in a statement.

“July is historically the weakest order month of the year, as fleets pause to reassess their equipment needs for the remainder of the year,” he said.

FTR’s Ake agreed, adding that most fleets have their trailer orders in for this year and, as a result, August orders should be “subdued” before starting to recover in September. 

FTR noted that trailers order have now totaled 264,000 units over the past twelve months, with trailer production falling over 3% from June on a per day basis and backlogs falling 8%, remaining 12% below a year ago.

“Another positive for the industry is that cancellations remain low,” added ACT’s Maly. “Fleets are obviously standing firm with their order commitments, an indication of fleet confidence in the near-to-medium term outlook.”

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