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Preliminary Jan. trailer orders up y/y, but drop after four months of gains

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David Sickels is the Associate Editor of Tire Review and Fleet Equipment magazines. He has a history of working in the media, marketing and automotive industries in both print and online.

Preliminary reports indicate that the January net order volume of 29,100 trailers was up 94% from the same month last year, ACT Research reports. That was also down 33% from December 2020 bookings. This preliminary market estimate should be within plus or minus 3% of the final order tally, ACT says.

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According to FTR, trailer orders fell in January after four months of robust orders. January trailer order activity met expectations, as most of the large fleets had already placed their 2021 requirements orders previously, FTR says. A couple of OEMs are booked solid for dry vans for all of 2021 and have limited capacity to book additional orders. Orders for refrigerated vans have been robust for the last four months, so the pace here is moderating also. Orders for flatbeds have risen noticeably over the last two months and are expected to continue to improve in January, FTR says.

“Fleets are expecting 2021 to continue to be a great year for freight and have placed a hefty number of orders in the last five months,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “Replacement demand is solid because carriers are profitable. Expansion demand is growing due to the capacity constraints that emerged after the economic startup. Orders should continue to ease down due to the lack of available build slots. The challenge right now is for OEMs to fill near-term orders due to raw material and component shortages.”

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“The year-over-year gain, with OEMs booking almost twice the volume they reported last January, was in line with expectations, as the industry continues to see solid interest from fleets for equipment acquisition. The slower order pace versus December was also anticipated,” said Frank Maly, director of CV transportation analysis and research at ACT Research. “The order surge last September through December, which sets the stage for solid production volumes this year, is actually somewhat of a limiting factor for additional orders in the short-term. For dry vans and reefers, orderboards currently commit many OEMs into late 2021, and that means 2021 production slots are becoming a rare commodity.”

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