Trailer manufacturers posted 57,300 orders in December, the second-highest monthly intake since ACT Research began tracking in 1996. The volume appeared to be a catch-up after OEMs blocked many orders from April to August because they lacked pricing visibility.
“I cannot speak for other OEMs. However, our higher booking in December was driven by the later opening of the order books as we awaited required quoting information from the supply base,” Sean Kenney, chief sales officer for Hyundai Translead, told FreightWaves.
“Hyundai Translead is anticipating continued higher-than-normal orders for the next few months as we work through the impact of this.”
December net U.S. trailer orders came in 46% higher compared to November and 115% above December 2021, ACT Research reported. The highest month on record was September 2018, with 57,800 net orders.
Some manufacturers report that the supply of parts has deteriorated despite their acceptance of the huge number of December orders.
Lingering supply chain concerns for future trailer orders
“Supply-chain concerns still linger,” with no short-term improvement in sight, Jennifer McNealy, ACT director of commercial vehicle market research and publications, said in a news release. “Regarding demand, most trailer makers continue to see demand exceeding capacity through the end of 2023.”
One major OEM, Wabash, announced a long-term supply agreement Jan. 10 with J.B. Hunt Transport covering up to 15,000 trailers over the next few years.
Some OEMs mentioned an erosion in confidence to ACT, but so far it is not showing up in order cancellations.
Mike Baudendistel, a FreightWaves market expert, expressed surprise at the order volume in December.
“It could be some makeup orders to compensate for the supply constraints the past couple years,” he said. “I would think the orders were even more heavily weighted toward the large enterprise carriers than they usually are since they are well capitalized and their business holds up better in a weakening market.”
Total net orders placed in 2022 were 361,500 compared to 249,400 in 2021. The industry produced approximately 306,000 trailers in 2022.
“Our projections point to a continuation of that upward trend into 2023,” McNealy said.