"The easing in demand is broad based," said EPA President Peter Toja. Shipments of van trailers were off a "modest" 5.4%, thanks to a large backlog in the first quarter, he noted. Non-van trailer shipments were down 10.7%.
There are a number of negatives that will continue to dampen trailer sales the rest of this year and into 2001. Sharply higher fuel costs, increased driver pay and benefits, and a hike in insurance premiums are limiting trucker profitability, he said. Opportunities associated with electronic commerce are shifting investment money from over-the-road heavy equipment to lighter straight trucks. And higher interest rates are also dampening new equipment purchases and lease decisions.
On the plus side, "the U.S. economy continues to expand and export opportunities are improving by the day," Toja said. For that reason, EPA isn't predicting a major or lengthy contraction in trailer demand. "From this point on, we expect a gradual easing in quarterly shipments through the end of this year and into the first half of 2001."
For more information contact Economic Planning Associates, (631) 864-4900.