ACT Research and FTR both reported record preliminary trailer orders in July.
ACT’s preliminary estimate net trailer orders is 29,300 units with final July volume available later this month. ACT said its methodology allows it to generate a preliminary estimate of the market that should be within +/- 3 percent of the final order tally.
FTR said trailer orders set a record for the month of July coming in at a surprising 28,000 units. Trailer orders have now totaled an impressive 350,000 units for the past 12 months. Orders were up 109% year over year.
“After a steady June, fleets came roaring back into the market in July,” said Frank Maly, ACT’s director of CV transportation analysis and research. “OEMs had their strongest July net order volume in history, breaking a record that was set in 1994. Net orders were 102 percent better than last July and 45 percent above June volume. Considering July is historically, the industry’s weakest order month, this performance is truly exceptional. Year-to-date, net orders of just over 200,000 trailers are up 30 percent from 2017.”
Maly said when seasonally adjusted, July came in above 44,000 units, the second strongest monthly reading in industry history.
“That converts to a stunning 528,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate,” he said. “Both dry vans and reefers paced overall performance, closing the month with backlogs that now stretch into March of next year. While strength was evident across all industry segments, it is noteworthy that cancellations remain low, indicating strong fleet confidence as we move through the rest of this year and into next.”
Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles, said OEMs have opened up some of the 2019 order boards, so fleets have started ordering a couple months early to reserve build spots and lock in prices.
Carriers expect to add more trucks in 2019 and will need additional trailers for them. Freight growth continues to strain industry capacity, he said, adding refrigerated van orders were particularly strong, and dry van orders rebounded after a weak June.
“This is a terrific order number for a month of July. Usually July is the lowest order month of the year, but not this year. This indicates the trailer market should continue to be robust in 2019,” Ake said. “Strong economic and freight growth is expected to continue and, as a result, trailer production is at record levels. Orders should stay elevated as fleets continue to place orders earlier than normal for 2019.”
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