As equipment ordering season for 2020 kicks off, October trailer orders hit the highest level since November 2018, causing production backlogs to climb for the first time all year, according to a preliminary report from the analysts at FTR.
FTR tracked about 31,800 new orders in October, up 71% from the previous month. However, compared to October 2018, orders were down 42% as 2018 saw near record equipment orders.
Trailer orders for the past 12 months have now totaled 241,000 units.
“This is great news for the trailer market. Several large dry van fleets placed requirement orders for 2020, showing they have confidence in the freight markets going into next year,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “Dry van orders were strong despite a lull in freight growth. There still is plenty of replacement demand present and fleets continue to need more dry vans to move products quickly to and between warehouses due to increased online sales.”
The high October order levels were achieved despite elevated levels of cancellations from OEM’s cleaning up their backlogs. October production is expected to be down moderately on a per-day basis due to seasonal factors, according to FTR.
Vocation trailer markets, such as flatbeds and dumps are still struggling due to weakenss in the industrial sector. Refrigerated van trailer orders are expected to increase.
“The higher October orders suggest the market will be decent in 2020, although down significantly from the expected record production volume of 2019,” said Ake. “The trailer market is slowing, but a significant downturn is not imminent.”