August Trailer Orders Trumpet Better Days, Rise 150%
A trailer body in production at a Great Dane manufacturing plant. In 2021, Great Dane said it will focus on its new smart trailer telematics system, FleetPulse, which it unveiled in 2019. (Great Dane via YouTube)
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U.S. trailer orders in August topped 27,000 as they rose 150% year-over-year, ACT Research reported. The surge comes just four months after the lowest order number on record.
Preliminary net orders hit 27,500, according to ACT, which cited trailer makers’ initial data.
As the pandemic led into the deepest recession ever, April trailer orders fell to 200, and in May, they were 3,107 — the rock bottom and second-worst figure of all time.
August was a very solid order month, said Frank Maly, director of commercial vehicle analysis and research at ACT. Goods-related freight is available, capacity is tight, and rates are climbing.
A year earlier, U.S. trailer orders in August were 10,762 and had bounced along below 11,000 units for the fourth consecutive month amid near-record factory inventories of undelivered trailers, plus plentiful cancellations.
Now, “fleets are definitely coming into the market and making some noise. Cancellations were low, as well, which is also positive,” Maly said. Orders canceled totaled 1,400.
But it’s definitely a two-sided market with vans, reefers and flatbeds doing well, while vocational categories are having difficulties, he added.
FTR pegged preliminary net orders at 28,700.
“That’s a great order number for an August,” said Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles at FTR.
Part of the August orders include dealer restocking, which no one really expected, Ake said. “Then you get the part where build is stabilizing, and this provides some momentum going into October, when fleets start ordering for next year.”
At the same time, he said trailer production is still running below the first quarter’s pace.
Trailer makers welcomed the change, but some were caut