trailer tractor storm Photo: Josh Fisher / Fleet Owner

Summer doesn't slow down record-breaking trailer orders

August marks the second straight month of higher than anticipated trailer orders with August orders 27% higher than July and 141% year-over-year.

Trailer orders continued to outpace expectations and set year-over-year records, according to two research firms that track sales.

August trailers orders outperformed expectations coming in at 35,300 units, according to FTR's preliminary numbers. ACT Research's preliminary estimate for August put trailer orders even higher at 38,200 units.

This is the second consecutive month of higher than anticipated trailer orders, according to FTR, with record-breaking August orders 27% higher than July and 141% year-over-year. Trailer orders for the past twelve months total 370,000 units, according to FTR.

“Fleets continued to invest at a torrid pace in August, following a robust July," said Frank Maly, ACT’s director of CV transportation analysis and research. "Industry net orders of 38,200 trailers were up more than 30% from July and over 140% better than this time last year. "

August’s net orders were nearly 50,000, which converts to a 595,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), according to ACT. Continuing the recent pattern, ACT Research says dry vans and reefers provided most of the support for the total industry results; both categories were up more than 40% versus July. Dry vans were up almost 90% versus last August, while reefers were up over 240% versus last year.

"The summer has shown amazing strength, reflecting commercial fleets’ positive outlook in response to solid freight rates, volumes, and capacity challenges," Maly said. "After seeing the strongest July volume in industry history, August followed suit, surpassing the previous record of August 1994 by more than 11,000 orders.”

Fleets continue to place their 2019 orders a few months ahead of schedule as most OEMs have opened up their order boards through the second quarter of next year. During August, some large fleets placed substantial orders for dry and refrigerated vans to reserve production slots for next year. Parts and component availability remains tight.

"Orders should remain sturdy for the rest of the year, with continued steady freight growth and tight industry capacity" said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. "There is strong demand for new trailers, and we expect this to continue well into 2019. It is a good sign that fleets expect a robust year in 2019 and are ordering trailers earlier than normal in anticipation.”

Added Maly: "Year-to-date net orders of more than 238,000 trailers are greater than 40 percent versus last year. Eight of the 10 trailer categories are in the black year-over-year, with seven of those posting double-digit or better gains. Year-to-date performance is led by reefers, with net orders up 110% versus last year.”

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