September trailer orders came in at 31,300 units, the first time in 2023 that year-over-year comparisons have been positive, according to the latest reports from ACT Research.
Orders outpaced production in September, ACT noted. Trailer backlogs grew 3% sequentially, but were nearly 21% lower y/y, against 2022’s supply-chain constrained and pent-up demand heavy environment. The backlog is now nearly 138,800 units.
Jennifer McNealy, director of CV market research and publications at ACT Research, said that caution is still appropriate despite the good news these numbers bring.
“What we don’t yet know, and why some in the industry still consider demand worse than a year ago, is how long this level of deal closing can be sustained amid the freight recession that has lingered through 2023,” she said. “With a two-week drop, the positioning of the backlog relative to build remains healthy. Despite the month’s bigger backlog, a stronger September build rate pushed the seasonally adjusted backlog-to-build ratio to six months. At September’s build rate, the current backlog essentially commits the industry well into Q1 of 2024. That said, the data continue to provide mixed messages, with cancellations remaining elevated, even as backlogs remain at healthy, albeit shorter, levels.”