U.S. trailer orders jumped in December 2022 to between 56,949 and 57,300 units, according to FTR and ACT Research, respectively.
Order activity for the month was up over 100% versus December 2021.
Backlog levels returned above 200,000 units with an increase of another 17% with the surge in orders, according to FTR. December build was down another 8% month-over-month but was up 17% year-over-year.
Build output was on the low end of the range of recent activity, but adjusting for holiday downtime would eliminate most of the gap. Lower build and a jump in end-of-year factory shipments caused the inventory levels to drop by 18% month-over-month, FTR said.
FTR CEO and Chief Intelligence Officer Jonathan Starks said in a press release the surge in orders is unlikely to be sustained.
“We have already seen strong moderation in Class 8 orders,” he said. “However, we have now seen more than 347,000 orders placed over the last 12 months, and backlogs are at their highest level in nearly two years. 2023 is starting on solid footing even as the macro uncertainty remains extremely elevated.”
But Jennifer McNealy, director of commercial vehicle market research and publications at ACT Research, says their projections point to a continuation of an upward trend of trailer orders into 2023.
For ACT Research, December 2022 was the second highest month ever recorded since they started keeping track in 1996.
“Discussions in the last 30 days continue to indicate 2023 is not yet fully open, despite OEMs expanding availability,” McNealy said. “Supply-chain concerns still linger, with some manufacturers sharing that the situation for some parts has actually deteriorated and they see no short-term improvement in sight. Regarding demand, most trailer makers continue to see demand exceeding capacity through the end of 2023; although, some have mentioned an erosion in confidence, but are also quick to note that this hasn’t appeared in the form of cancellations.”