Josh Fisher I FleetOwner
New dry van trailer

Strong trailer demand continues but backlog remains

March 29, 2023
Preliminary February net trailer orders were up compared to January but down compared to a year ago, according to ACT Research. But trailer OEMs started the year with a big order backlog. Fleets ‘need to maintain their patience.’

February’s preliminary net trailer orders increased sequentially, but were lower against longer-term comparisons, according to ACT Research. The firm projects that 25,800 units, or a seasonally-adjusted 25,600, were booked during the month, according to ACT Research’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report.

“Preliminary net orders were more than 6% higher compared to January’s intake, but about 5% lower against the same month last year,” said Jennifer McNealy, director of CV market research and publications at ACT Research.

The year-over-year decline can be attributed to backlog length, she added. Trailer backlogs started the year 50,000 units more than at the start of 2022. February’s preliminary data show orders for dry vans and platform trailers driving the sequential uptick, McNealy noted.

See also: Months into port labor talks, shippers fear more supply chain ramifications

“While demand remains strong, we’re also seeing improved, albeit still challenged, build data,” she explained. “While we are still waiting for February data, January’s backlog-to-build ratio, a proxy for industry demand strength was nearly 10 months, roughly double the historical average. That means fleets needing trailers will need to maintain their patience.”

Further, the trailer backlog should decrease by around 1,100 units when complete February data are released, McNealy suggested.

ACT Research’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report provides a monthly review of the current US 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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