Trailer orders are following class 8 tractor orders into record territory, according to the two leading research companies whose monthly reports are considered industry benchmarks.
The preliminary report out of FTR was that September trailer orders were a “tremendous” 56,000 units, breaking what it said was the record month of October 2014 by 10,000 units. Meanwhile, ACT research reported 58,200 trailers ordered during September, which it described as a “never-seen-before” number. ACT also said the previous record month was October 2014, when it recorded “just over” 47,000 units.
“Orders continue to exceed expectations with September units 59% higher than August and up 133% y/y,” FTR said in its prepared statement on its September preliminary findings. “Trailer orders for the past twelve months have now exceeded 400,000 units.”
ACT said in its statement that the year-to-date numbers through September was more than 295,000 trailers, which is 50% more than in 2017.
The strength was across the board, according to FTR. “Most” of the increase was in dry vans, but the numbers were strong also for refrigerated vans and flatbeds. Concerns about higher raw material costs and the availability of parts proved not to be a factor, FTR said: “This did not hinder the fleets from ordering in huge numbers for future deliveries.”
The across-the-board nature of the numbers was also cited in a statement by Frank Maly, ACT’s director of CV Transportation Analysis & Research. “Order strength was widespread, with nine of the ten trailer categories in the black on a year-over-year basis,” he said in the statement. “Grain trailers, the sole outlier, missing a positive result by less than a percentage point. Year-to-date performance was nearly identical to the year-over-year results, an indication both consistent and longer-term industry-wide strength.”
Don Ake, the vice president of commercial vehicles at FTR, noted how strong the tractor orders have been. The “tremendous” numbers for tractors are now being followed by companies “ordering the trailers to go with them.”