The latest trailer order activity showed a sharp decline from previous months and an even bigger drop year-over-year, said research firm FTR. According to the company, U.S. trailer net orders for April were 17,700 units, down 19% from March of this year and off 30% from April 2014.
FTR said part of the decline was the large number of fleets that placed trailer orders in 2014 to cover their needs for this year, as well as “general economic factors.”
“The traditional summer slump arrived early this year. This is not surprising considering the huge amount of orders placed late last year and the big backlogs,” said Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles. “However, reports indicate the trailer market is cooling off, and the increased number of cancellations is definitely a concern. Order rates should keep falling through the summer months. Build rates are still robust, but most OEMs did not match their great March numbers. This indicates fleets are not as anxious to take deliveries, which is consistent with a slowing economy and a moderating freight market.”
Even with the decline, trailer orders have totaled more than 340,000 in the past 12 months, FTR said, leaving trailer manufacturers with a healthy backlog. Trailer build in April was up 24% from April 2014.
Dry van and flatbed orders were impacted the most by the April decline. Dry van orders were down 32% m/m with build falling more than 6% from March. Flatbed orders were the lowest since July, but build remained strong, FTR added. Both orders and build remained solid for refrigerated vans as well as liquid and bulk tankers. Dump trailer orders, though, declined.