New commercial trailer registrations for the first nine months of the year were up 42 percent compared to the same period last year, according to Polk's quarterly Commercial Vehicle Market Intelligence Report.
Wabash dry van trailers were the top brand in new registrations tracked by Polk.
Wabash dry van trailers were the top brand in new registrations tracked by Polk.

The 76,125 units registered were still far below the record level of new trailer registrations in 1995, when 241,000 new trailers (24 feet or more in length) were registered.

"While new trailer registrations remain below record levels set in 1995, this improvement is significant and indicates that the market for both commercial power units and trailers has turned around after three consecutive down years," said Gary Meteer, director, sales and client services, at Polk. "There is a strong correlation between GVW 8 registrations and the registration of new commercial trailers through the first nine months of 2010 - as both have shown increases," he continued.

During the first nine months of the year, the top four trailer body types (vans, grain, flatbed, hopper) accounted for 84.3 percent of the total new trailer registrations. Trailer van continues to be the largest segment of the trailer market, accounting for nearly 72 percent of new trailer registrations. Dry van registrations for the first nine months were up 75 percent from the same period the year before.

Grain trailers were the second most popular, making up 6.3 percent of the total trailer registrations, according to Polk.

Flatbed registrations were down just under a percent, making up 3.3 percent of the total trailer registrations so far this year and up nearly 18 percent from the same period a year earlier. Hopper trailers made up 2.9 percent of the registrations and were up 16 percent from last year.

There's hope that registrations will continue to increase in the future, considering that new orders of dry van commercial trailers more than doubled in October from the prior year, leading total net orders of commercial trailers to a 33-month high, according to ACT Research. Eight of the nine trailer categories tracked by ACT posted year-over-year growth.

In the latest release of State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers, ACT noted that net orders of 17,126 were 79 percent higher than October of last year. The strong inflow of orders pushed manufacturer backlogs up by over 5,000 units.

"The strength in October orders was widespread, but was clearly led by a surge in demand for dry van trailers," said Kenny Vieth, president and partner of ACT Research. "October was only the second month since early 2007 that dry van net orders broke above what ACT considers to be the dry van replacement level, meaning carriers are just now starting to work towards catching up on their replacement cycle."