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Trailer orders soar in October as OEMs raise intake

Orders jump 82% over September and 168% year over year

New trailer orders soared 82% in October over the previous months as OEMs opened their orderbooks fully. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

A return to normalcy among trailer manufacturers gained momentum in October with order intake as much as 91% higher than September and 171% greater than a supply chain-constricted October 2021.

Final reports show net trailer orders in October were 47,860 units, the highest of the year, according to ACT Research. FTR pegged orders at 44,000, up 161% over the comparable month a year earlier.

The pent-up demand for new equipment responded to the full opening of orderbooks. Even as freight demand has cooled, a pandemic-related replacement demand jumped.

“Trailer manufacturers seem to have found themselves in a goldilocks environment for the moment,” Jonathan Starks, FTR CEO and chief intelligence officer, said in a release. Demand for new equipment remains robust despite the worries of a weak economy, and suppliers and labor have been able to maintain a solid level of output since early this year. 

Starks said FTR expects the present conditions to remain in place through mid-2023 before economic uncertainties force weaker freight levels and demand for new equipment eases.

‘Increasing nimbleness’ helps OEMs meet demand for trailer orders

“With the supply-chain constraints improving for trailer manufacturers, as well as their increasing nimbleness in meeting and mitigating those challenges, OEMs are more comfortable accepting orders, and this month’s preliminary data demonstrates that,” said Jennifer McNealy, ACT director of commercial vehicle market research.

Backlog-to-build ratios are running above the seven-month mark on average, she said. Backlogs grew 13% on the increased orders after trending lower most of the year, FTR said.

“Everything still remains strong,”CEO Brent Yeagy of first-to-last mile equipment developer Wabash told FreightWaves. “What we talked about in the earnings call stands and continues. We’re at $2.3 billion [in backlog]. That is a Q3 record in Wabash’s history. We’ve had no cancellations per se. And we still see 2023 being a good year.”

Editor’s note: Adds commentary from FTR; tweaks order numbers.

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

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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.