Photo: Tom Berg

Photo: Tom Berg

Trailer orders in November beat expectations by a wide margin due in part to large orders placed by large fleets, according to the latest trailer numbers from analysts at FTR and ACT Research.

FTR counted net November trailer orders at 35,800 units for the month – more than a 78% increase over the month before it. However, trailer orders are still down 8% compared to last November.

“This was an unexpected jump in trailer orders,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “Fleets took more time than usual to determine their 2017 requirements, but the large fleets then placed some impressive orders.”

Dry van trailer orders showed the most significant gains in the month, practically doubling October’s number and nearly matching November 2015 levels, according to ACT Research. Also contributing to the good month were lower cancellations and improved energy prices which have improved liquid and bulk tank order volumes.

Orders for much of 2016 have fallen below last year’s levels and year to date, trailer orders volumes are down more than 30%. Still, November saw backlogs increase by 15%, marking the first rise since December 2015.

“The trailer market segments continue to be highly fragmented.  Dry and refrigerated vans, which are closely tied to the consumer sectors of the economy, are maintaining much of their strength,” said Ake.  “Flatbeds and other trailers connected to the industrial side of the economy, have fallen off significantly the second half of 2016.”