Trailer orders were up month over month in December but down when compared to 2023, ACT Research reports.
Preliminary orders were 24,300 units in December, a nominal increase from November, but down 58% from 2023. As the industry is still in the peak order season, seasonal adjustment (SA) lowers December’s tally considerably, to 17,200 units. Final December results will be available later this month, the company says.
“While orders were down materially from year-ago levels, preliminary net orders, at 17,200 seasonally adjusted, were about 10% higher sequentially,” says Jennifer McNealy, director, CV Market Research & Publications at ACT Research. “After a disappointing, although not unexpected, drop last month, December’s preliminary net orders aligned with less-than-stellar expectations, particularly amid a backdrop of weak profitability for truckers and anecdotal commentary from trailer manufacturers who have shared that orders are coming but at a slower pace than they have the last few years.”
McNealy adds that the month's results “continue to support our thesis that when fleets don’t make money, their ability and/or willingness to purchase equipment is muted. That said, the lower orders don’t indicate a catastrophic year in the offing either, simply the slowest December we’ve seen since before the pandemic began.”
McNealy says other indicators ACT Research is watching include cancellations, which oscillated above comfortable levels for most segments in December, and the backlog-to-build ratio, which in aggregate is weakening, now around five months.
“However, some specialty segments have no available build slots until late in 2024 at the earliest, while others are in the three-month range,” she adds.