April trailer orders are projected to decline as much as 20% compared to the previous month, following seasonal ordering patterns, according to a preliminary report from FTR Transportation Intelligence.
Despite the drop, trailer order numbers still topped last year’s in the same month and remain at a solid level, according to FTR. April 2018 trailer orders are projected at 22,000 units, up 10% year-over-year.
“Most fleets have their orders placed for 2018, and some dry van OEMs are booked solid for the year,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “This is still a decent April for trailer orders. It is higher than 2015 and signals the market will stay red-hot for a while.”
Trailer orders have totaled 330,000 units for the past 12 months. Component shortages have increased and may affect manufacturer’s ability to build all of the orders on backlog this year, said Ake.
“There is still capacity available for refrigerated van and vocational trailer orders, and the chugging economy should continue providing increased sales of all trailer types,” said Ake. “Some orders are already rolling into 2019. Solid freight growth and high trailer capacity utilization rates mean more trailers are needed to help relieve this capacity crunch and compensate for driver shortages.”
According to ACT Research, which publishes its own report on equipment orders, April was the 17th consecutive month of year-over-year trailer order gains.
“While heavily influenced by dry vans and reefers, the industry’s average backlog now extends deep into the fourth quarter," said Frank Maly, ACT Research director of commercial vehicle transportation analysis and research. "Depending on the OE and the trailer category, a fleet placing an order now may well receive a 2019 delivery date.”