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Pent-up and replacement demand feeds robust trailer orders

When a build slot opens, a fleet grabs it as backlog stretches to 7 ½ months

Preliminary trailer orders in November came in at 39,000, a second consecutive month of growth. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Despite signs of a slowing economy, trailer manufacturers are pulling in strong new orders to meet pent-up and replacement demand.

Preliminary orders for dry and refrigerated vans and flatbeds totaled 39,000 in November, according to ACT Research. That was 22% above the corresponding month in 2021 but 17% below October’s huge intake of 48,000 units.

“Nearly as soon as a build slot is available, there is a fleet ready to fill it with an order,” said Jennifer McNealy, ACT director of commercial vehicle market research and publications.  “Demand remains strong. With backlog-to-build ratios near the 7 ½-month mark, on average, fleets needing trailers are staying the course.”

Trailer orders have risen handsomely for two consecutive months. (Source: AC

Large for-hire and larger private fleets are driving demand, Great Dane executive vice president of sales Chris Hammond told FreightWaves.

“The larger fleets still need to catch up on under buys from the past few years so we expect the trailer market to hold up throughout 2023,” Hammond said.

The backlog of trailers waiting to be built industry wide should increase by around 13,500 units once final results for November orders are known.


Sean Kenney, chief sales officer for Hyundai Translead, said the next six months for orders will be telling. Trailer manufacturers accepted few new orders earlier in the year when supply chain disruptions, worker availability and volatile commodity prices combined to hamper the industry.

“The overall market demand appears to be holding with few cancellations combined with sustained planned volumes by customers and dealers,” Kenney told FreightWaves. “Our orders across all products for 2023 are continuing to fill as planned and are maintaining stability. 

“We are seeing a mix of replacement and pent up demand across the fleets with fewer planning for growth.” 

Trailer orders soar in October as OEMs raise intake

External pressures drag out typical cycle for trailer orders

Replacement cycle stretched as trailer orders drop in July

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

2 Comments

  1. Ron Strickler

    Have to wonder what impact the idle trailers I see sitting in distribution and manufactures for a load to be picked and the yard dog slotting it to load. Then a day or two for contract and pick up. Is there any survey out that estimates these trailers in between?

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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.