The number of new trailer orders in June was the lowest of the year as OEMs prioritized a glut of bookings while managing supply chain capacity issues preventing them from building units.
It is a common refrain: Strong fleet demand is an irresistible object pitted against manufacturers as an immovable force.
“With 2023 orderboards only partially open, it is no surprise that net orders in June were the lowest they’ve been so far this year,” said Jennifer McNealy, ACT Research director of commercial vehicle market research and publications. “With long backlogs, fleets still want to make sure their orders are in queue, regardless of when they will be filled.”
ACT pegged preliminary net trailer orders at 15,300 units, down about 21% from May but 33% higher than the same month last year.
FTR Transportation Intelligence reported net orders of 14,400 units, down 23% month over month and up 20% year over year. On a rolling 12-month basis, the industry accepted 265,000 orders.
Trailer orders: ‘Enormous amount of fleet commitments’
“The OEMs are holding onto an enormous amount of fleet commitments for 2023,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “Unstable commodity costs and other variables make quoting prices difficult right now. Usually the numbers drop because fleets have ordered all the trailers they need for the year. This time, the orders are falling because the OEMs have limited build slots available due to ongoing supply chain disruptions.”
A similar phenomenon occurred in Class 8 truck orders in October and November. Manufacturers canceled and retimed orders for 2022 models until 2023. OEMS are strictly monitoring order intake this year to avoid a repeat.
Fleets need more trailers. OEMs want to increase production, but some component parts remain scarce. Orders should remain sluggish throughout the summer.
“Orders should rise substantially in the fall when commitments for next year are firmed up,” Ake said. “And there is the potential for record order volumes in the fourth quarter.”