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ACT: Trailer orders set a record in January

Feb. 16, 2018
Refrigerated trailers in particular are in high demand, the firm noted.

According to data tracked by ACT Research, the preliminary estimate for net trailer orders this January is 39,100 units, which is a record-setting number, the firm said.

“January net orders came in 22% better year-over-year, and while [39,100 units] is down 15% from December, that’s a comparison to the second-best month in industry history. And it was the best January on record,” noted Frank Maly, ACT’s director of CV transportation analysis and research.

“This continues a string of extremely solid order placement,” he added in a statement. “November and December of last year, along with January of this year, rank as the third, second, and fifth highest order months in industry history. Tight trucking capacity and solid freight rates are supporting both fleet needs and investment ability. Lengthening industry backlogs also encourage fleets to join industry order boards.”

While the majority of trailer categories posted positive year-over-year order levels, the refrigerated or “reefer” segment led the way last month. “Reefer net orders set an all-time monthly record, coming in 250% better than last January,” Maly said.

Bob Costello, chief economist for the American Trucking Associations (ATA), noted in a presentation this week at NATSO Connect 2018 – the annual convention of the trade group formerly known as the National Association of Truck Stop Operators – that refrigerated freight demand in particular witnessed a major uptick in 2017 on into 2018.

TL freight volumes increased 2.8% in 2017 versus 2016, more than surpassing the weak 0.1% increase in TL volumes that occurred in 2016 versus 2015. By segment during 2017, dry van freight demand went up 2%, flatbed increased 2.2% and refrigerated spiked by 5%. On top of that, dry van demand surged 7% in the fourth quarter of last year and the pace hasn’t let up yet, Costello noted.

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