Research firm FTR Transportation Intelligence said that preliminary net trailer order numbers for the U.S. reached an all-time high of 47,000 units in December, which is 10% above November’s numbers and up 38% year-over-year.
When finalized, December’s orders are expected to exceed the previous high of 45,800 reached in October 2014, with total trailer orders for 2017 reaching 308,000 units.
According to FTR, fleets are ordering thousands of dry vans to deal with exceptionally tight trucking capacity pushed to the edge by the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate, with freight volumes continuing to grow without enough equipment to haul it.
As a result, motor carriers are resorting to more “drop-and-hook” operations to compensate for the lack of drivers – and as a result of that tactic, they need significantly more trailers to manage the demand, the firm said.
Across the board economic growth is also keeping trailer demand strong in the other segments, FTR added. Refrigerated freight remains robust, higher crude oil prices are reviving tank trailer sales, and flatbed demand is being boosted by construction and manufacturing growth.
“December was just an awesome month for trailer orders,” noted Don Ake, FTR’s vice president of commercial vehicles, in a statement.
“We have seen pressure build on equipment markets for several months, and this shows the first quarter is going to be hectic as fleets scramble to keep up with freight demand.”