Both industry analysts that tractor commercial vehicle orders and sales say that preliminary trailer orders continued at a good pace.
ACT Research’s preliminary estimate for May 2018 net trailer orders is 23,300 units with final numbers coming later in June.
FTR reports preliminary May trailer orders at 21,200 continuing the traditional seasonal drop in orders, albeit at still strong levels.
“Fleet investment continues at a torrid pace. Net trailer orders were up year-over-year for the 18th straight month in May. While normal seasonal patterns call for a month-over-month decline in the high teens, May net order volume was just 2 percent below April,” said Frank Maly, ACT’s director of CV transportation analysis and research.
“The major factors that have been driving the market, solid freight rates and tight capacity, with the added aid of beneficial tax changes, continue to provide the fuel for this ongoing order flow,” Maly said. Year-to-date, more than 151,000 net orders have been booked, up more than 26% versus last year.
“At current build rates, it appears that dry van and reefer backlogs, on average, have crossed into early 2019. Their influence pushes the industry average backlog-to-build well into December. Most vocational trailer categories appear to have backlogs that stretch into early fall,” he said.
FTR said trailer orders have now totaled 335,000 units for the past 12 months.
If OEM’s could build all the orders being placed, 2018 would easily be a record year, according to Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles.
However, supplier constraints on key components and fabrications are holding back production, but even so, production is robust and still expected to set a record.
“At 21,000 thousand plus, this is still an impressive order total for May,” Ake said. “In 2015, May was the weakest order month and this May’s number is 30 percent higher than that. There is a chance that May could be the lowest month this year if fleets start ordering for 2019 early. Some OEMs are booked solid for 2018 and are soliciting orders for next year.”
Ake said the capacity crunch continues and there are reports of trailer shortages by shippers.
“The supply chain is getting plugged up and some full trailers are sitting at warehouses for days, waiting to be unloaded. These trailers are in effect pulled out of service in these regions causing temporary availability issues,” he said. “Shipments are being delayed in many markets and more trailers are needed to keep the freight moving.”