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Trailer manufacturers keep the brakes on new orders

Cancellations quickly filled by substitute booking amid strong pent-up demand

Trailer orders fell in May as seasonally expected. Manufacturers continued to show caution in taking bookings that would grow their current backlogs. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Trailer manufacturers continued to swat away most orders in May, holding backlogs steady while battling supply chain disruptions that jumped from one part to another.

Preliminary reports show that net trailer orders in May were 18,300 units. That was down about 7% from April but up 111% from the same month last year, according to ACT Research.

FTR Transportation Intelligence reported that trailer orders on a rolling basis for the past 12 months totaled 250,000. Trailer orders typically decline in May on a seasonal basis.

“We continue to believe there is reluctance to push the order board horizon into next year as OEMs continue to closely control order acceptance,” said Jennifer McNealy, ACT director of commercial vehicle research and publications.

ACT Research graph comparing trailer orders to date in 2022 with 2021.
Trailer orders fell in May as seasonally expected and manufacturers kept a tight rein on incoming orders to keep backlogs under control. (Source :ACT Research)

Tight ordering environment for trailer manufacturers

Two trailer manufacturers confirmed to FreightWaves that the ordering environment is tight.

“We’ve not really seen any cancellations,” said Chris Hammond, executive vice president of sales at Great Dane. “If there is a small cancellation, the spot is quickly filled with another order.”

Said David Giesen, vice president of sales at Stoughton Trailers: “We still have customers requesting more equipment than we can build. There is significant pent-up demand, especially in dry vans.”

Visibility into supply chains should improve later this year, but it is not happening so far.

“As we get closer to Q4, OEMs will begin to gain necessary visibility into the future impacts brought by supply chain disruptions and overcome suppliers’ caution to commit to 2023 pricing and lead times,” said Charles Roth, FTR analyst-commercial vehicles.

Hammond said Great Dane will not open 2023 order books for several more weeks “as we manage the supply chain to determine capacity changes.”

Is the supply chain stabilizing for trailer manufacturers?

FTR said it has seen modest improvements on the supply side. That suggests stable production.

“Under these conditions, OEMs are still proving that they can overcome headwinds and keep production at consistent levels, while also carefully and strategically managing their backlog,” Roth said.

A shortfall follows every improvement in the availability of one part, Giesen and Hammond said.

“The supply chain is still quite strained. Each week brings new challenges with shortages and action plans to adjust to not having what is needed,” Giesen said.

Added Hammond: “We will see improvement in one area only to see another area of the supply chain falter.”

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

One Comment

  1. Stephen Webster

    In Canada we are about 20,000 reefer trailer short and about 33,000 dry box to maintain same service with e logs coming in. I am concerned about a repeat of 2008 if too many people coming into trucking and too many new tractors come in to service. We need safe parking overtime hourly pay medical care and a min freight and wage rates or we will have more homeless people from the trucking industry.

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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.