BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — U.S. trailer net orders for March dropped 35 percent from February and are off 39 percent from last year at 13,800 units, transportation analyst firm FTR reported April 19. The monthly order activity, the lowest since July 2013, was “disappointing and well below expectations,” FTR said.
Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles, said “The long, strong run of the trailer market finally appears to be moderating. Backlogs are still robust, so production should be steady for the next several months. However, production on a per day level has been unusually flat the first three months of 2016, and the low order total in March will put absolutely no upward pressure on build.
“Dry van orders were weak because the vast majority of fleets placed their 2016 orders from August 2015 through February 2016. A large chunk of these orders were to replace older units that were not upgraded due to the aftermath of the Great Recession. The big question now is how solid the backlog will be if the economy remains stagnant.”
Despite the weak numbers for March, orders have totaled 291,000 units for the last 12 months and backlogs are down only 6 percent year-to-year.
Dump trailers were the strongest of any trailer segment with all others showing weakness month-to-month. Overall March trailer build remained flat on a per-day level for the third consecutive month; however, refrigerated van build was up 11 percent month-to-month per day.