US trailer market entering transition period

Trailer net orders in the US have met expectations in April, with 15,800 units making for a 15 per cent month-on-month increase.

According to research company, FTR, however, order activity was still down 12 per cent on year-on-year basis – the weakest April since 2010.

“The trailer market is slowly moderating and beginning a transition period,” Don Ake, FTR Vice President of Commercial Vehicles, explained the discrepancy.

“Orders have been weak for two consecutive months, and the start of the traditional summer order slump is still two months away.

“Backlogs remain excellent, so no major adjustment to production is expected for a few months. Cancellations were elevated for the second straight month, and this is usually an indication the market will begin cooling soon.”

Ake said dry van orders rebounded in April after a very weak March but were still at the second lowest total for the year.

Refrigerated van orders were down m/m and the lowest since 2013, with flatbeds orders similar to March.

April order activity for liquid tanks and dump trailers was weak during April.

There was minimal change in trailer build daily rates, which have remained fairly steady through the first four months of the year.

“Dry vans and refrigerated vans continue to sustain the trailer market. Fleets are profitable, and they are using some of these profits to replace units that were not able to be replaced during the Great Recession.

“Refrigerated freight is still robust, driving the need for new and replacement units. The dump trailer market is being boosted by increased road construction.”

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