January trailer order numbers were down to start the year, though the volume still beat...

January trailer order numbers were down to start the year, though the volume still beat expectations.

Photo via Stoughton Trailer

January trailer order numbers were down to start the year as fleets and OEMs are still dealing with the large amount of orders made in 2018.

Analysts at FTR pegged the final number of orders for the month at 26,300 units, down 5% from December and 39% compared to the previous January. However, orders still beat FTR’s expectations, and much of the year-over-year decline in orders is simply due to the tremendous boom in equipment ordering in 2018.

“This was still a positive month for trailer orders considering how many orders are already in the backlog,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “All trailer segments are expected to start off 2019 with momentum, which is good news for the industry and general economy.”

ACT Research has not yet released its final trailer order volume for February, but its preliminary estimates indicate the same trend. ACT’s prediction of 25,800 units is off 7% from December 2018 and 35% year-over-year. Part of the slowdown was attributed to an all-time record backlog of orders with build slots full throughout 2019.

“Slower dry van and reefer trailer volume contributed to the declines,” said Frank Maly, ACT’s director of commercial vehicle transportation analysis and research. “Indications are lower orders were not the result of weak fleet demand, as some OEMs report unwillingness to accept additional orders that would extend orderboards that, according to some reports, already fill available 2019 build slots.”

January also had the highest number of order cancellations since August 2016. FTR attributed this to fleets shifting orders around to better suit their needs.

“The business uncertainty and more subdued economic indicators have not impacted the trailer market as of yet,” said Ake. “We do expect the market to cool slightly in the second half of the year as freight growth moderates, but for now, there is still a huge demand for new trailers across most segments.”

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