Trailer orders grow, but fall well below last year’s seasonal surge

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Updated Oct 22, 2021
Act Research trailer order graph

September U.S. trailer orders of 28,127 units rose nearly 126 percent from the previous month, but were more than 45 percent lower compared to September of 2020, according to this month’s issue of ACT Research’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailer Report.

Before accounting for cancellations, new orders of 32,400 units were up almost 140 percent versus August, but 38 percent lower than the previous September. YTD, net orders for the first nine months of 2021 were up 11 percent, while new orders grew 8 percent compared to the same time period in 2020, which included the COVID-stricken spring data.

“September total net trailer orders grew mainly as the result of a 268 percent month-over-month surge in dry van orders for the month, as some 2022 orderbooks were very cautiously cracked open. It appears that OEMs are being extremely careful regarding acceptance of additional orders, although the caution is more centered in the higher-volume dry van, reefer and flatbed categories,” says Frank Maly, ACT director–CV Transportation Analysis and Research.

“Dry van and reefer OEMs are trying to walk a very delicate line, setting their pricing in a very challenging inflationary environment while also balancing production commitments with component and material availability and staffing concerns,” Maly says. “Staffing seems to have become a more challenging issue for the industry. Adds to staff are very difficult, while consistent attendance of existing staff is also reported to be problematic.”

ACT Research’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report provides a monthly review of the current US trailer market statistics, as well as trailer OEM build plans and market indicators divided by all major trailer types, including backlogs, build, inventory, new orders, cancellations, net orders and factory shipments.        

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