US trailer market cooling off

Research company FTR has announced that trailer orders in the US were down 19 per cent month-over-month in April, totalling some 17,700 units, and a disappointing 30 per cent compared to 2014.

“Order activity has cooled off in large part because many major fleets placed their orders in 2014 to cover 2015 requirements, but were also impacted by general economic factors,” said Don Ake, FTR Vice President of Commercial Vehicles.

“However, even with the decline, trailer orders have totalled more than 340,000 the past 12 months creating a still-healthy backlog, albeit 10 per cent below January peak.”

Also, Ake said trailer build in April continued at a good pace and is now up 24 per cent year-over-year.

Dry van and flatbed orders were reportedly impacted the most by the April decline. Dry van orders were down 32 per cent month-on-month, with build falling more than six per cent from March.

Flatbed orders were the lowest since July, but build remained strong at these manufacturers. Both orders and build remained solid for refrigerated vans as well as liquid and bulk tankers.

“Dump trailer orders started to slide in April; production, however, stays strong,” Ake added.

“The traditional summer slump arrived early this year. This is not surprising considering the huge amount of orders placed late last year and the big backlogs.

“However, reports indicate the trailer market is cooling off, and the increased number of cancellations is definitely a concern. Order rates should keep falling through the summer months. Build rates are still robust, but most OEMs did not match their great March numbers.

“This indicates fleets are not as anxious to take deliveries which is consistent with a slowing economy and a moderating freight market.”

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