Today’s Pickup: ELDs, lack of drivers push up trailer orders

Dry van orders reached a single month record in December with 47,000 units, FTR said.

Good day,

A combination of factors continued to drive dry van trailer orders as 2017 came to an end, with December orders up 38% year-over-year, according to FTR.

The firm said that preliminary December U.S. net trailer orders reached an all-time high of 47,000 units in December, 10% above November’s strong totals. The previous record for a month was 45,800 units in October 2014.

Total trailer orders for 2017 were 308,000 units, FTR said, which attributed the rise to the strong economy and tight capacity driven in part by the electronic logging device mandate. The group noted that carriers may be switching to more drop-and-hook operations where possible to maximize driver productivity, necessitating the need for more trailers.

“December was just an awesome month for trailer orders.  We have seen pressure build on equipment markets for several months, and this shows Q1 is going to be hectic as fleets scramble to keep up with freight demand,” said Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles.

Did you know?

December net trailer orders reached 47,000 units in December, according to preliminary data from FTR. That was 10% over November and 38% above December 2016. Total trailer orders for 2017 were 308,000 units.


“Fleets are ordering thousands of dry vans to deal with exceptionally tight trucking capacity pushed to the edge by the ELD mandate. Freight continues to grow without enough equipment to haul it. Carriers are resorting to much more drop-and-hook to compensate for the lack of drivers, and they need significantly more trailers to manage the demand.”


In other news:

EPA and its attempt to exempt glider kits

EPA’s attempts to exempt glider kits from the greenhouse gas emissions rules raises an important question: what constitutes a new truck? (Wall Street Journal)

LTL rates face 5% increases

Less-than-truckload rates could increase 5% or more this year, according to two veteran trucking leaders. (Logistics Management)

Retail sales post 16.2% gain in 2017

Retail sales were up 16.2% in 2017 including a 5.4% increase in December, powered by a 18.5% year-over-year gain in online sales. (Digital Commerce 360)

Autonomous guidelines coming this summer

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a speech that the government will release autonomous vehicle guidelines this summer. (Crain’s Detroit Business)

Reshoring could have negative effect on truck trips

The Tennessee Department of Transportation says that reshoring of manufacturing activity could decrease the length of truck trips and the number of trips overall. (Fleet Owner)

Final Thoughts

Fleets continue to invest in equipment, with the news that trailer orders were up 38% year-over-year in December the latest sign. FTR attributes the increase to a strong economy, the ELD mandate, and an overall lack of drivers leading more fleets to adopt drop-and-hook models.   

Hammer down everyone!

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.