February trailer orders outpace January; remain below 2023

Tps Logo Online Headshot
Updated Mar 27, 2024
ACT February 2024 trailer orders

ACT Research and FTR announced early this week preliminary net trailer orders last month increased nominally from January to February.

At 20,500 units, orders were lower compared to February 2023, down nearly 21% year over year. And as the industry reaches the end of peak order season, ACT states seasonal adjustment (SA) lowers February’s tally modestly, to 20,100 units. FTR reports a month over month jump of 37% with 21,331 units sold. Year over year, FTR says trailer orders are down 18%. 

“Against year-ago data still impacted by pent-up demand that is now gone, softer order intake activity continues to meet expectations,” says Jennifer McNealy, director, CV Market Research & Publications at ACT Research. “Net orders remain challenged by a backdrop of weak profitability for for-hire truckers. Anecdotal commentary from trailer manufacturers and suppliers through the past several months have indicated this slowing, as they have shared that orders are coming, but at a more tepid pace when compared to the last few years.”

FTR says trailer production is up 22% month-over-month and down 12% year-over-year to 24,102 units, a number it says is in line with the average production level seen over the last three years. February's backlog is down, too, FTR says, by almost 2,800 units. 

"The increase in production, coupled with the fall in backlogs, resulted in some downward change to the backlog-to-build ratio, which stands at 5.7 months," says Eric Starks, FTR's chairman of the board. "This ratio is right in line with the average level for the last half of 2023 and is slightly below the historical average prior to 2020. A fall in the ratio is normal following the holiday season, and the overall picture is still that of an industry that is continuing its move towards stability." 

McNealy adds February's data continues to support ACT Research's thesis “when fleets don’t make money, their ability and/or willingness to purchase equipment is muted. That said, the lower orders now don’t indicate a catastrophic year in the offing, as the economy continues to expand at an above-trend rate in Q1, and goods-producing economic sectors that were out of favor last year are looking healthier in 2024.”

[RELATED: Has 2024 started as you expected?]

She also states ACT Research is actively monitoring cancellations. McNealy says those remained “above comfortable levels for most segments in February.

“While the industry’s largest segments remain under pressure, some specialty segments have no available build slots until late in 2024 at the earliest and cancellations remain low,” she says.

Learn how to move your used trucks faster
With unsold used inventory depreciating at a rate of more than 2% monthly, efficient inventory turnover is a must for dealers. Download this eBook to access proven strategies for selling used trucks faster.
Used Truck Guide Cover