Despite falling compared to the previous month, net trailer orders in March remained robust, posting significant gains compared to last year.
FTR’s tracking of trailer orders for the month showed a 20% dip compared to February but a 50% increase year-over-year, reflecting a positive trailer order environment. The monthly decline was largely due to seasonal buying habits, which usually surge in the late summer and fall before tapering off in the spring.
ACT Research, which also tracks monthly trailer orders, attributed much of the net gain in the past 12 months to dry vans, which it said were roughly double last year’s level.
“Fleets are growing much more optimistic about the business environment and they are buying more trailers again after a slump the second half of last year,” said Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles at FTR.
An interesting pattern has developed lately with monthly declines in each of the past four months but with yearly increases, according to market analysts at Stifel.
“We attribute the disconnect to changes in seasonal order patterns driven largely by extended backlogs in prior years pulling forward orders into the early months of the order season. We do not believe the March orders should change the consensus outlook for 2017 production, especially as we increased our production outlook last month after observing strong January-February data, and the March demand appears relatively in line with recent trends,” stated Stifel in its monthly report.