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June trailer orders up slightly from May but down year over year

June trailer orders up slightly from May but down year over year
Preliminary reports from FTR and ACT Research show a slight month-over-month gain in June trailer orders, but orders are down year over year.

Preliminary reports from industry analysts show June’s net trailer orders up month over month but down year over year.

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According to ACT Research’s “State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers” report, trailer OEMs posted 11,100 net orders in June, 20% above May orders but 19% below June of 2020.

“While the sequential increase in net orders was certainly welcome, a full response to actual fleet demand would have generated higher order volumes,” said Frank Maly, director of commercial vehicle transportation analysis and research for ACT. “Some OEMs, due to their extended backlogs, continue to be unwilling to book meaningful order volumes at this time.”

June’s year-over-year drop in net orders was the first since May 2020, which Maly describes as the “tail-end” of last year’s COVID-depressed order activity.

“These preliminary results point to a backlog that still extends into late Q1 of next year on average, with dry van and reefer backlogs extending into Q2 of 2022 at current production rates. While total production did improve last month, the gains came from additional days in the production schedule,” he explained. “Preliminary analysis indicates OEMs were not able to achieve any significant increase in build rates during the month, as headwinds from material and component supplies, as well as staffing challenges, continue.”

FTR reported similar preliminary figures with 11,000 units sold in June — 16% above May and 24% below last year. According to FTR, trailer orders for the past 12 months total 364,000 units. Analysts at FTR noted that most OEMs are not taking additional orders for 2021 delivery.

“The market is in a holding pattern until ordering for 2022 shipments begins,” noted Don Ake, FTR’s vice president of commercial vehicles. “Demand for trailers remains robust, as fleets attempt to move an increasing amount of freight during a shortage of Class 8 trucks. Fleet capacity is extremely tight. Trailer production is also constrained by supply chain disruptions and labor shortages.”

Ake predicts trailer orders for 2022 will set records once the order boards are opened.

“Trailer demand is expected to be sturdy throughout next year. However, the actual demand for trailers will not be ascertainable until the supply chain problems dissipate,” he said. “The production situation for early 2022 could be complicated if OEMs cannot build all the orders currently on the books in 2021.”

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