While trailer orders in October were down month over month and year over year, they still beat expectations, according to industry research and analysis firm FTR.
Trailer net orders were 32,200 units, down 7% month over month and 30% below a year ago. Trailer orders have now totaled 324,000 for the past 12 months.
Refrigerated van orders were spectacular in October, showing a 40% improvement over September. Dry van activity was solid, down 22% month over month due to the comparison against the robust September order activity. Dump trailer orders remain strong. Flatbed orders were at their highest level since March but still down 51% year over year. Tanker orders were weak in October. Over all segments, trailer production was down 8% (per day) versus September.
“In spite of the monthly or yearly comparisons, October was still an outstanding month for trailer orders," said Don Ake, FTR Vice President of Commercial Vehicles. "Strength in the dry van and refrigerated van segments boosted the total. Flatbeds and tanks have really cooled off, however."
Ake says the dry van orders appear to be “pent-up” demand orders for trailers that were not replaced after the Great Recession. "Fleets have money and continue to upgrade their trailers. Freight is weaker, so this is not expansion demand."
The refrigerated van market is now expected to remain strong throughout 2016, he said. "The large order activity in this segment (a record) was totally the result of large fleets placing their entire 2016 requirements now, in order to reserve production slots.”