Despite a decrease in trailer orders in the past few months, analysts at ACT Research say that fleet demand hasn’t wavered much.
If you haven’t heard yet, 2018 was a banner year for trailer orders as fleets purchased new equipment to meet increased demand. However in December of last year, net orders declined by 39% month-to-month and 40% year-over-year. ACT Research tracked 26,000 net orders in January, a respectable number, but still well below levels seen in the previous year.
In the latest quarterly ACT Research Trailer Components Report, analysts said that the softness was not necessarily due to a change in fleet confidence.
“At this point, we don’t see softening demand for trailers as the driver of the recent downtick in orders,” said Frank Maly, director of commercial vehicle transportation analysis and research at ACT Research. “We’ve heard multiple comments regarding OEMs’ unwillingness to accept additional orders.”
The fourth quarter of 2018 closed with the industry at an historically high backlog and with fleets buying equipment as far out as late 2019, OEMs are reluctant to take more orders because of the uncertainty of material and component price projections.
Other factors that may be affecting trailer ordering in early 2019 are bad weather and concerns about the availability of components such as suspensions and axles.
“Their concern is the uncertainty regarding material and component pricing for the longer term, which makes trailer pricing decisions difficult,” said Maly. “Additional production is being limited by ‘availables,’ meaning available capacity, available labor, and available components and materials.”