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Trailer orders drop by nearly half in April

May 25, 2022
Production uncertainties continue to leave manufacturers cautious in an ongoing strong market—setting up order books for a surge in 2023, according to ACT Research.

Trailer orders in April dropped by nearly half from the previous month as production uncertainties continued to leave manufacturers cautious in an ongoing strong market—setting up the order books for a 2023 surge, according to the latest issue of ACT Research’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailer Report.

Still, April net U.S. orders of 19,614 units (down 48% from March) were 23% higher compared to April 2021, ACT reported.

See also: Trailer orders surge in March, further increasing pent-up demand

“Order placement remained choppy in April, and dry vans, with a 64% month-over-month slide in net, were responsible for the total industry decline,” said Frank Maly, director of commercial vehicle transportation analysis and research at ACT. “Despite April’s drop, OEMs continue to negotiate with fleets and that effort is building a large group of staged/planned orders that are not yet officially posted to the backlog.

“Once OEMs gain sufficient confidence in their supply chain and labor availability to open 2023 production slots, expect a surge of orders to be ‘officially’ accepted.”

The industry “normally” hasn’t been willing to push production commitments past 12 months, so manufacturers would not typically turn the page on the order book before midyear, Maly noted. But the pandemic-battered 2020/21 timeframe has been “anything but normal.”

As a result, ACT Research anticipates some OEMs will begin to go “deeper” into their order boards, factoring in appropriate cost/price protections. This would result in both a “competitive advantage” and “improved fleet relations,” Maly suggested.

“The order board slid sequentially in April, and we expect the backlog to contract as we move through late spring and early summer,” he said. “But the yet-to-be-determined date for opening the 2023 order boards will reverse the backlog contraction and likely quickly extend the backlog well into next year."

ACT Research’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report provides a monthly review of the current U.S. trailer market statistics as well as trailer OEM build plans and market indicators divided by all major trailer types, including backlogs, build, inventory, new orders, cancellations, net orders, and factory shipments.

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