December’s US preliminary net trailer orders increased nominally from November to December, but at 24,300 units, orders were lower compared to last December by 58 per cent.
“While orders were down materially from year-ago levels, preliminary net orders, at 17,200 seasonally adjusted, were about 10 per cent higher sequentially,” said Director CV Market Research & Publications at ACT Research, Jennifer McNealy, adding that December’s preliminary net orders aligned with less-than-stellar expectations, particularly amid a backdrop of weak profitability for truckers and anecdotal commentary from trailer manufacturers who have shared that orders are coming but at a slower pace than they have the last few years.
The result, according to ACT Research, backs its thesis that when fleets don’t make money, their ability and/or willingness to purchase equipment is muted. That said, the lower orders don’t indicate a catastrophic year in the offing either, simply the slowest December since before the pandemic began.
“Other indicators being watched closely include cancellations, which oscillated above comfortable levels for most segments in December, and the backlog-to-build ratio, which in aggregate is weakening, now around five months,” McNealy said. “However, some specialty segments have no available build slots until late in 2024 at the earliest, while others are in the three-month range.”