Trailer orders continue softening, slip again

ACT January 2024 trailer orders

Preliminary trailer orders fell off in January, ACT Research reports. At 13,700 units, January's orders were down from December and down 43% year over year. With the industry still in a peak order season, ACT Research says a seasonal adjustment lowers January’s tally moderately, to 12,400 units. 

“With the pent-up demand enjoyed by the industry during the past few years largely extinguished, a softer opening to 2024 meets expectations,” says Jennifer McNealy, director CV Market Research & Publications at ACT Research. “Net orders are being challenged by a backdrop of weak profitability for for-hire truckers, and anecdotal commentary from trailer manufacturers throughout the past several months have been indicating this slowing, as they have shared that orders are coming but not at the same rapid pace that they have the last few years.”

McNealy adds this month's results continue to support ACT Research's thesis that when fleets don’t make money, their ability and/or willingness to purchase equipment is muted.

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“That said, the lower orders don’t indicate a catastrophic year in the offing, simply one that is on target to be less stellar than we’ve seen recently,” she said.

“Another indicator being watched closely is cancellations, which oscillated above comfortable levels for most segments in January,” McNealy says. “While the industry’s largest segments are under pressure, some specialty segments have no available build slots until late in 2024 at the earliest, while others are in the three-month range.”

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