FTR expects 2017 will turn out to be ldquoanother solid trailer yearquot Photo Sean KilcarrFleet Owner

FTR expects 2017 will turn out to be “another solid trailer year." (Photo: Sean Kilcarr/Fleet Owner)

Trailer order backlogs slip but build rates remain steady

August numbers indicate trailer manufacturing activity remains at a relatively even pace.

Net trailer orders rebounded in August to 14,600 units, up 9% month-over-month from July and up 4% year-over-year, according to data tracked by FTR Transportation Intelligence.

ACT Research added that, as August tied March for the longest OEM work schedule of the year – some three days longer than July – trailer makers “capitalized” on the additional work days by eking out a sequential increase in U.S. trailer builds.

“The longer schedule gave OEMs a bit of operational breathing room,” noted Frank Maly, ACT’s director of CV transportation analysis and research, in a statement.

“Daily production of 1,189 units per day, the third highest of the year, was off 7 units per day from July,” he added.

The total U.S. trailer backlog was off 10% month over month and 11% lower year over year in August, Maly pointed out. “Backlogs slipped below 100,000 for the first time since last October,” he noted. “While most vocational/specialty trailers backlogs are up versus last year, both dry vans and reefers are in the red, off 11% and 39%, respectively.”

Yet Don Ake, FTR’s vice president of commercial vehicles, took a more “glass is half full” view of current trailer production conditions, noting that orders have now totaled 265,000 units the last 12 months.

“August was another quiet, summer month for trailers [with] orders remaining at the bottom of the cycle as expected,” Ake explained. “The good news is that build rates remained sturdy for van trailers and the vocational segments also held steady. Backlogs are lower than last year at this time but should start to recover in a couple months.”

He believes 2017 will turn out to be “another solid trailer year,” pushed up by growing freight demand and tighter industry capacity. “Next year is forecasted to be just as strong, and the vocational segments should continue to grow as the industrial economy improves,” Ake added.

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