Trailer orders leapt forward in September

US Trailer orders in September 2023

The seasonal order uptick hit the trailer market last month, ACT Research reported this week. 

The company says its September’s preliminary net trailer orders increased sequentially to 31,300 units against a very easy August comp, and were notably higher compared to last September, up 19%.

As the opening month of peak order season, ACT Research says its seasonal adjustment lowers September’s SA tally to 28,700 units. Final September results will be available later this month. The strong September totals followed an equally positive month in the truck order space

“Preliminary net orders, at 28,700 seasonally adjusted, were 95% higher sequentially,” says Jennifer McNealy, director CV Market Research & Publications at ACT Research. “While this certainly is a welcome sign for the industry, and the first time in 2023 that year-over-year comparisons have been positive, one month of robust orders does not guarantee the full year. It’s still too early in the new year order season to call.”

McNealy goes on to say industry data continues to provide mixed messages, with cancellations remaining elevated, driven primarily by the van segments, both dry and reefer, even as backlogs remain at healthy, albeit shorter, levels.

[RELATED: FTR's Starks says trailer market correction incoming in 2024]

“In August, the backlog to build ratio was north of five months in aggregate, with some specialty segments having no available build slots until the beginning of 2025. We’ve been hearing that order discussions were occurring, and it looks like quotations are beginning to convert to ‘booked’ business.”

McNealy also anticipates September's orders will push the backlog up a bit.

“Using preliminary September orders and the corresponding OEM build plans from the September State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report (August data) for guidance, we would expect the trailer backlog to increase by around 4,200 units to about 138,800 units when complete September data are released. As this number is derived from estimated data, note there will be some variability to reported backlogs when final data are collected,” she says.

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