According to the numbers from FTR and ACT Research, preliminary trailer orders were strong in December. FTR reports that preliminary U.S. net trailer orders totaled 41,700 units, while ACT reports orders at 42,500.
FTR says December order activity was up 6% m/m and 155% y/y. Total trailer orders for 2020 totaled 297,000.
The order volume for October through December was the highest ever for a fourth quarter, FTR says, and fleets continue to order dry and refrigerated vans in hefty quantities for delivery throughout 2021. Consumer-oriented freight growth continues to rise and should continue, pushed by the second government stimulus. Vocational trailer orders are still recovering but should improve as manufacturing grows.
“This is another great month for trailer orders,” says Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “The last four months are very similar to the order surge in August to November 2018. These orders have boosted the backlogs after hitting a low point in July during the throes of the pandemic. Orders should begin falling in January if the 2019 trend repeats. However, there are enough orders in the backlog for a healthy production year.”
Adds Frank Maly, director of CV transportation analysis and research at ACT Research: “December activity closes a tumultuous year on a very solid up note. As has been the story throughout recent months, dry van demand continued to drive the market. While October and November were the best two dry van order months in history, final stats will likely show December not far behind, ranking fifth-best. After rushing to the sidelines in the spring, fleets surged back into the market as the year proceeded.”