Despite a significant drop off in trailer orders to close out the year, 2018 was the best year on record for trailer orders, according to preliminary reports from ACT Research and FTR.
ACT Research expects final net trailer orders to hit around 420,000 units for the year and FTR projects a year-end total of 409,800 trailer orders. Trailer orders for just the fourth quarter of 2018 hit 127,000 units, the second highest quarter ever, according to FTR.
“Full-year results indicated just how robust current fleet investment plans are, as the industry set an all-time record for annual net orders last year,” said Frank Maly, ACT’s director of commercial vehicle transportation analysis and research. “The industry enters 2019 with the highest orderboard in history, committing dry vans and reefers well into Q4 ’19, which pushes the overall industry average into early Q4. Vocational trailer categories have shorter, but very solid, horizons.”
December trailer orders were soft, falling to 27,800 units, a drop of 39% compared to November, according to ACT Research. Orders were also down compared to December 2017. Dry van orders were down in December, contributing to the less-than-stellar order month. Maly also indicated that some of the slide may have come from manufacturers being reluctant to book additional orders because of their already substantial backlogs.
“This drop was expected since the first half of the year is already booked for dry vans and refrigerated vans,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “Most of the big fleets already have their requirements orders in for 2019. Now the medium and small fleets are searching for the remaining build slots, based on their expected needs in the second half of the year.”