Two U.S. companies that track, analyze and report data on the commercial vehicle industry both say preliminary data show trailer orders continue to be down year-to-date.
ACT’s preliminary estimate for March 2019 net trailer orders is 15,600 units. Final volume will be available later this month. Our methodology allows us to generate a preliminary estimate of the market that should be within +/- 3% of the final order tally.
FTR reports preliminary trailer orders for March 2019 at 13,500 units, plummeting to the smallest monthly total since September 2016 and the lowest March since 2008. Recent comparisons were also very negative -43% month over month and -52% year over year.
Trailers orders for the past 12 months now total 371,000 units, FTR said.
“It appears that the industry entered a bit of a holding pattern in March, as order volume declined significantly from both the previous month and this time last year. Net orders dropped 35% from February and were approximately 48% below a year ago,” said Frank Maly, ACT’s director of CV transportation analysis and research. “Although current backlogs consume the majority of available build slots this year, particularly in the dry van and reefer segments, we continue to hear that OEMs are reluctant to fully open the 2020 orderboards. Their concerns center around materials and component pricing, which would obviously have measurable impact on future pricing. While some fleets appear to be willing to extend commitments, others might be waiting, monitoring current market conditions. Also worth noting, given extended backlogs, OEMs are pushing to deliver trailers as quickly as possible; preliminary information indicates production crossed the 30k unit mark last month for only the second time in industry history.”
FTR said dry van orders were particularly low, with few build slots available left in 2019. Vocational trailer orders also continue to fall. The low level of trailer order activity in March should result in backlogs finally beginning to move down from record levels.
“This low order number is not surprising,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “Backlogs had fallen little so far in 2019, and are at unreasonable levels. Fleets still need more trailers, based on the robust production, so demand has not changed in the short run. The weak orders are totally the result of the lack of available production openings. However, cancellations will continue to be a factor due to a large, fluid, backlog.”
For more information on ACT Research, visit www.actresearch.net.
For more information about the work of FTR, visit www.FTRintel.com, follow on Twitter @ftrintel, or call (888) 988-1699 Ext. 1. 8
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