According to reports from both ACT Research and FTR, trailer orders in June improved over May but were down compared to June of last year. ACT’s preliminary reports show that trailer OEMs posted 11,100 net orders in June, 20% above May orders, but 19% below the same point last year.
“While the sequential increase in net orders was certainly welcome, a full response to actual fleet demand would have generated higher order volumes. Some OEMs, due to their extended backlogs, continue to be unwilling to book meaningful order volumes at this time,” said Frank Maly, director of CV transportation analysis and research at ACT Research. “June’s negative year-over-year comparison for net orders was the first since May 2020, the tail-end of last spring’s COVID-depressed order activity. These preliminary results point to a backlog that still extends into late Q1 of next year on average, with dry van and reefer backlogs extending into Q2 of 2022 at current production rates. While total production did improve last month, the gains came from additional days in the production schedule. Preliminary analysis indicates OEMs were not able to achieve any significant increase in build rates during the month, as headwinds from material and component supplies, as well as staffing challenges, continue.”
FTR’s numbers had 11,000 units in June, 16% above a weak May and -24% year-over-year. Trailer orders for the past twelve months total 364,000 units.
Order activity was constrained, as most OEMs are not taking additional orders for 2021 delivery. However, vocational trailer orders were steady, as there are still open build slots in those segments. The industrial sectors of the economy recovered slower than the consumer side, delaying the demand for flatbeds and tank trailers, FTR reported.
Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles, commented, “The market is in a holding pattern until ordering for 2022 shipments begins. Demand for trailers remains robust, as fleets attempt to move an increasing amount of freight during a shortage of Class 8 trucks. Fleet capacity is extremely tight. Trailer production is also constrained by supply chain disruptions and labor shortages.
“Orders are expected to set records once the order boards for 2022 are opened. Trailer demand is expected to be sturdy throughout next year. However, the actual demand for trailers will not be ascertainable until the supply chain problems dissipate. The production situation for early 2022 could be complicated if OEMs cannot build all the orders currently on the books in 2021.”