• DATVF.ATLPHL
    1.977
    0.052
    2.7%
  • DATVF.CHIATL
    1.901
    0.003
    0.2%
  • DATVF.DALLAX
    1.446
    0.003
    0.2%
  • DATVF.LAXDAL
    1.318
    -0.092
    -6.5%
  • DATVF.SEALAX
    1.017
    -0.041
    -3.9%
  • DATVF.PHLCHI
    1.094
    0.004
    0.4%
  • DATVF.LAXSEA
    2.162
    -0.084
    -3.7%
  • DATVF.VEU
    1.657
    0.020
    1.2%
  • DATVF.VNU
    1.543
    -0.029
    -1.8%
  • DATVF.VSU
    1.382
    -0.045
    -3.2%
  • DATVF.VWU
    1.589
    -0.063
    -3.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    10,426.310
    -84.160
    -0.8%
  • OTRI.USA
    12.050
    -0.110
    -0.9%
  • OTVI.USA
    10,424.030
    -83.420
    -0.8%
  • TLT.USA
    2.720
    0.000
    0%
  • WAIT.USA
    151.000
    -8.000
    -5%
  • DATVF.ATLPHL
    1.977
    0.052
    2.7%
  • DATVF.CHIATL
    1.901
    0.003
    0.2%
  • DATVF.DALLAX
    1.446
    0.003
    0.2%
  • DATVF.LAXDAL
    1.318
    -0.092
    -6.5%
  • DATVF.SEALAX
    1.017
    -0.041
    -3.9%
  • DATVF.PHLCHI
    1.094
    0.004
    0.4%
  • DATVF.LAXSEA
    2.162
    -0.084
    -3.7%
  • DATVF.VEU
    1.657
    0.020
    1.2%
  • DATVF.VNU
    1.543
    -0.029
    -1.8%
  • DATVF.VSU
    1.382
    -0.045
    -3.2%
  • DATVF.VWU
    1.589
    -0.063
    -3.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    10,426.310
    -84.160
    -0.8%
  • OTRI.USA
    12.050
    -0.110
    -0.9%
  • OTVI.USA
    10,424.030
    -83.420
    -0.8%
  • TLT.USA
    2.720
    0.000
    0%
  • WAIT.USA
    151.000
    -8.000
    -5%
EquipmentTrucking

Falling trailer bookings track muted tractor orders

Lowest annual orders since 2011 point to big drop in production from record 2019.

Trailer orders sputtered again in December to close the year at just over 200,000 units, less than half the year-ago output.

The caution of fleets in placing orders points to a much softer but historically sound build level in 2020.

“Fleets are expected to continue to replace old trailers based on their standard trade-in cycles,” said Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles at FTR Transportation Intelligence. “Van trailers sales, spurred by strong consumer spending, are still doing better than the vocational segments.”

Preliminary orders of 16,500 in the last month of 2019 were the lowest since August. They were off 17% compared with November and down 41% compared with December 2018, according to FTR. 

Eight-year low

ACT Research said preliminary bookings for December were 17,200, down 13% from November and off 37% year over year. For all of 2019, 205,000 orders were placed, down 51% from 2018 and the lowest annual order volume since 2011. Before accounting for cancellations, 2019 orders were 244,000, ACT said.

Five-year trailer order chart from SONAR
A five-year look at van, refrigerated and flatbed trailer orders. (FreightWaves/SONAR)

Month-over-month comparisons don’t tell a complete picture, said Dustin Smith, senior vice president of Commercial Trailer Products at Wabash National Corp.

“We get so caught up in a headline,” he said. “If this industry was as easy as every customer reducing their order by 13%, that would make life easy. But it doesn’t work that way. Some of our customers are continuing to grow. Some might take a break for a year.”

Cautious ordering

Fleets are displaying the same caution on trailers as they are showing in ordering Class 8 tractors, which closed 2019 at a 10-year low. The backlog of trailers waiting to be built fell for 11 of 12 months in 2019.

Large carriers are placing smaller orders for trailers with shorter lead times than is typical at the end of a calendar year, FTR said.  

2020 uncertainty

“A great deal of uncertainty exists at the start of 2020 due to a weaker manufacturing segment, the drag of tariffs and a tumultuous political situation,” Ake said. “Buyer nervousness is expected to increase throughout the year due to the upcoming election and conflict in the Middle East.”

Freight is expected to grow about 1% this year, which means the extra trailers ordered in recent years are unnecessary. Some of the capacity expansion resulted from extra money businesses had following federal tax cuts in 2018. 

“Trailer orders should stay in the 20,000-unit-a-month range for a while, as fleets continue to match orders with short-term demand,” Ake said. “Eventually, the manufacturing sector should recover, generating more orders for flatbed and dump trailers.”

Dealer inventories also are a concern for the new year,  Maly said. 

“While inventory did decline as the year closed, the reduction in December was less than would normally be expected,” he said. “That overhang will cause some further challenges to the industry during early 2020.”

Tags
Show More

Alan Adler

Alan Adler is a Detroit-based award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press, the Detroit Free Press and most recently as Detroit Bureau Chief for Trucks.com. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.

One Comment

  1. Need Money To Start Business? Read How To Find the Best Business Financing Company

    As we all know this is the era of start-ups, or we should say, entrepreneurs. Nowadays, any big, billion-dollar idea can be transformed into a prosperous business, all you need is adequate capital to get yourself off the ground.

    For start-ups, it’s crucial to find some apropos office space, hire expert techs, and have enough cash to pay their employees and suppliers. This signifies the most essential thing one will need to start a business is money. Therefore, it’s important to find the best firm offering a wide variety of heavy equipment financing and loans. The biggest perk of getting a loan is you immediately get cash to buy tools and equipment so that you don’t have to stall operations due to a lack of money.

    However, there are myriads of financing companies present in and around the market. It’s vital to find the most prominent firm. Let’s discuss what to look for while selecting a finance company.

    Well, the first thing you need to see is what kind of loans you’re looking for your business. There are several types of financing such as truck financing, commercial & plumbing equipment financing, wash plant financing, and plenty more. So, make sure to move forward with a business financing company that offers the type of loan that’s a good fit for your business.

    Another make-or-break factor to think is what are their minimum loan requirements, eligibility criteria, and other financing terms and conditions. Also, identify their funding speed in how much minimum duration you will receive the amount from them.

    If you are looking for the leading financing company to get a business loan, consider approaching First Capital Business Finance. It’s a full-service commercial lending company providing various services to their clients which includes a line of credit, invoice factoring, cash advances, truck financing, and more. Their skilled team not only offer loans but also help their clients by offering informative advice and affordable solutions to handle their cash flow demands.

    For more information, visit Firstcapitalbusinessfinance.com/.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Close