April’s preliminary net trailer orders hit all-time low volume

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Tractor with dry van
April showed a drastic drop in trailer orders. Volume was down 97% from March and 98% lower than April 2019.

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Preliminary April net U.S. trailer orders were 250 units, an all-time monthly low for the industry, according to information released by ACT Research May 19. Volume was 97% down from March and 98% below the same month last year.

That all-time low volume resulted from a combination of weak new order placement and disappointingly high cancellations.

“The impact of COVID-19 pressure on commercial vehicle business conditions is obvious in these preliminary April results,” said Frank Maly, director of commercial vehicle transportation analysis and research at ACT Research.

“Weak new order placement was the result of fleets swiftly moving to the sidelines, as freight volume and lower freight rates resulted in disappointing financial results,” he continued. “While some fleets continued to benefit from the movement of essential goods and materials, that support was beginning to wane as the month closed. Those fleets began to join the industrial, consumer goods, and retail-oriented carriers, where the lockdowns have depressed freight volumes.”

Preliminary reports show that less than 6,000 new trailer orders were placed in April, according to Maly.

“However, cancellations almost completely offset those new orders, as fleets backed away from prior commitments in a rapid reaction to the unprecedented business conditions generated by the economic shutdown. Indications are that both the dry van and reefer segments posted more cancellations than new orders in April,” he said. “Don’t expect any significant rebound in order placement until improvement in business conditions and an unwinding of the economic shutdown begins to improve freight volumes.”

Trailer preliminary stats

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