empty trailer

Trailer orders show no sign of slowing down

More OEMs are taking orders for the second half of 2019, which customers responded by reserving those future build slots.

Trailer orders continued on a tremendous roll in October, according to two research firms that track sales.

ACT Research’s preliminary estimate for October trailer orders was 55,250; FTR puts the total at 53,000 units — coming in just below last month’s record-setting number.

More OEMs, last month, started taking orders for the second half of 2019 and their customers responded by placing huge orders to reserve future build slots, according to FTR. Supply for production parts and components remains tight.

October 2018 trailer orders exceeded the same month last year by 67%, with orders for the past 12 months now at 423,000, according to FTR. Both dry van and flatbed orders were very robust but refrigerated vans moderated somewhat, the organization said.

“This was another great month for trailer orders,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “Fleets need to expand to handle steady freight growth. Capacity utilization remains at highly elevated levels. Trailers are being used to make drivers more productive and to help move goods as fast as possible.”

After posting the highest monthly net order volume in history in September, the trailer industry hasn’t slowed down, according to Frank Maly, ACT’s director of CV transportation analysis & research. “Our projection ranks October as the second-best net order month in history, up more than 70% year-over-year,” Maly said.

Seasonally adjusted, October net orders were almost 48,000 units. The trailer order season, which normally begins in October, has already been underway for several months so that higher seasonal impact reduces the adjusted results.

Ake added that the supply chain is struggling to perform well as more trailers are needed to improve delivery times. “Fleets are expecting the good times to continue and want to make sure they have an adequate supply of trailers throughout 2019,” he said.

Through the first 10 months of 2018, fleets have ordered about 350,000 trailers, according to ACT. That puts net orders up 55% so far this year compared to 2017.  This is “strong evidence of the positive fleet outlook driving robust investment plans,” Maly said. “The longevity of the current order cycle is evident with a review of recent history; six of the industry’s top ten order months have occurred since last November.”

While strength in dry vans continues to support overall industry results, according to ACT, the preliminary numbers point to last month’s reefer volume as the highest ever recorded.

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