Trailer orders slip to 2017 lows

ACT Research and FTR have released their preliminary estimates for July net trailer orders at 14,450 and 13,400 units, a decline of nearly 30 percent from June and the weakest total this year.

“We saw continued strong year-over-year net order performance last month. As has been the pattern, solid dry van commitments helped lead the total industry, with significant year-over-year gains in flatbed trailers occurring as well,” says Frank Maly, ACT’s director of CV Transportation Analysis and Research. “July is historically the weakest order month of the year, as fleets pause to reassess their equipment needs for the remainder of the year.

“The 30 percent decline from June is directionally correct, but a bit more than we might have expected. However, when seasonally adjusted, July volume was more than 20,500 units, which approaches a 250,000-annual rate, both very strong results.”

“The trailer market had a typical month of July. Orders usually fall as fleet managers take a break and turn their focus to next year,” adds Don Ake, FTR vice president of Commercial Vehicles. “The bright spots this month are the strong flatbed orders, and that production did not fall much from June’s impressive totals. This indicates production should be fairly steady the rest of the year.”

Additionally, FTR says the July activity met expectations with all segments except flatbeds taking a hit. Trailers orders have now totaled 264,000 units over the past twelve months. Production fell over 3 percent from June on a per day basis. Backlogs fell 8 percent and remain 12 percent below a year ago. So far this year, ACT says the industry has booked more than 153,ooo net orders, a 43 percent improvement. The shift by fleets to a more positive outlook coincided with last fall’s election, and is obviously ongoing.

“Another positive for the industry is that cancellations remain low. Fleets are obviously standing firm with their order commitments, an indication of fleet confidence in the near-to-medium term outlook,” Maly says.

“Most fleets have their orders in for this year,” says Ake. “We expect August orders to be subdued before starting to recover in September. The fall order season should be robust, as freight demand continues to grow and fleets lose productivity due to use of Electronic Logging Devices.”

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