Trailer orders saw a large decrease in April with just 17,700 units, dropping 19% compared to March and down 30% year-over-year, per the latest numbers from FTR.
FTR said order activity has "cooled off in large part because many major fleets placed their orders in 2014 to cover 2015 requirements, but [they] were also impacted by general economic factors."
Despite the decline, trailer orders have totaled more than 340,000 units in the past 12 months. This created a still-healthy backlog of orders, but it is 10% below its peak in January.
“The traditional summer slump arrived early this year,” said Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles at FTR. “Reports indicate the trailer market is cooling off, and the increased number of cancellations is definitely a concern.”
Dry van and flatbed orders were down the most in April. Dry van orders were down 32% compared with March and build orders fell more than 6%. Flatbed orders were at their lowest level since last July but build remained strong.
Reefer orders and build remained solid and the same was true for liquid and bulk tankers. Dump trailer orders began sliding in April but build was strong.
Order rates for all trailers are expected to keep falling through the summer months with build rates remaining strong.
“Build rates are still robust, but most OEMs did not match their great March numbers,” said Ake. “This indicates fleets are not as anxious to take deliveries which is consistent with a slowing economy and a moderating freight market.”