While trailer orders in June came in above their weak May numbers, orders have continued to soften compared to 2020 order numbers.
June trailer orders came in between 11,000 and 11,100 units, about 20% to 24% below the same point last year, FTR and ACT Research officials reported, respectively. Orders were between 16% and 20% above May numbers, the research officials reported independently.
The negative year-over-year comparison for net orders was the first since May 2020, the tail-end of last spring’s COVID-depressed order activity, ACT Research officials said in a press release.
“While the sequential increase in net orders was certainly welcome, a full response to actual fleet demand would have generated higher order volumes. Some OEMs, due to their extended backlogs, continue to be unwilling to book meaningful order volumes at this time,” said Frank Maly, director of commercial vehicle transportation analysis and research at ACT Research.
Maly added: “These preliminary results point to a backlog that still extends into late Q1 of next year on average, with dry van and reefer backlogs extending into Q2 of 2022 at current production rates. While total production did improve last month, the gains came from additional days in the production schedule. Preliminary analysis indicates OEMs were not able to achieve any significant increase in build rates during the month, as headwinds from material and component supplies, as well as staffing challenges, continue.”
Order activity was constrained, FTR officials explain, however vocational trailer orders were steady, as there are still open build slots in those segments. The industrial sectors of the economy recovered slower than the consumer side, delaying the demand for flatbeds and tank trailers, FTR officials said.
“The market is in a holding pattern until ordering for 2022 shipments begins,”said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “Demand for trailers remains robust, as fleets attempt to move an increasing amount of freight during a shortage of Class 8 trucks. Fleet capacity is extremely tight. Trailer production is also constrained by supply chain disruptions and labor shortages.”
He added: “Orders are expected to set records once the order boards for 2022 are opened. Trailer demand is expected to be sturdy throughout next year. However, the actual demand for trailers will not be ascertainable until the supply chain problems dissipate. The production situation for early 2022 could be complicated if OEMs cannot build all the orders currently on the books in 2021.”
Trailer orders for the past twelve months total 364,000 units, according to the FTR.