September proved to be one of the best months ever for trailer orders over the last few years. Reefers recorded their best month for orders in the last two years and dry vans – the largest segment of the commercial trailer market – posted a 182% year-over-year jump in orders.
According to ACT Research Co. (ACT), September’s order activity represents the continuation of a healthy rebound from 2009-- which now holds the record as the worst year for commercial trailer demand in nearly five decades.
ACT also said that net trailer orders reached 13,301 in September—which was nearly 19% above August levels.
“Net orders in September were at their highest volume since May; however, when seasonally adjusted, September’s order activity represented the best volume in the past 32 months,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and one of the firm’s partners. “Strong reefer van orders and improved flatbed trailer orders were also key drivers of demand in September.”
However, Vieth told Fleet Owner that the spike in orders for flatbeds last month – along with dump trailers, lowboys, etc. – seemed to be more of a “one-off” as carriers replaced older equipment and is not indicative of a longer-term trend to higher flatbed demand.
By contrast, order volume is strengthening nicely for tankers, refrigerated trailers, and dry van units – with the dry van segment witnessing a steady climb in orders that began in February of this year.
“It’s not that demand for trailers is strengthening per se,” Vieth cautioned. “What we’ve finally reached is the point where current trailer units are really old and truckers are now starting to make money to afford replacement. It shows that truckers are gaining enough confidence [about improved freight demand] to make capital investments in their operations.”