U.S. trailer orders in October were between 44,000 and 47,860 units, an increase of between 83 and 91% from September, according to FTR and ACT Research, respectively.
“Discussions across the past month indicate trailer OEM business conditions, including 2023 demand, material/component supply chain, and labor, are on-par with September, although swinging toward the ‘better’ side of the pendulum,” said Jennifer McNealy, director of commerical vehicle market research and publications at ACT Research.
Compared to October 2021, orders are up more than 100%.
“October orders were mixed, with some trailer categories up triple digits from September, others down double digits, and a few virtually unchanged. That said, seasonal adjustment does diminish some of the sensational increases, McNealy said. “This year’s backlogs are filled and build slot availability in 2023 varies widely by OEM but continues to open more fully, which helps explain customers’ ability to place orders at the pace exhibited the past two months.”
Backlog levels jumped 13% on the increased orders after a downward trend for most of the year, FTR officials said in a press release. October build rates were down 9% from September but were up 3% from October 2021.
Build is generally stable and in a narrow range – running from 23,000 to 27,000 for eight of the last nine months. Upward momentum for production output remains elusive, FTR said.
“Trailer manufacturers seem to have found themselves in a goldilocks environment for the moment,” Jonathan Starks, FTR’s CEO and chief intelligence officer, said. “Demand for new equipment remains robust despite the worries of a weak economy, and suppliers and labor have been able to maintain a solid level of output since early this year. We expect these conditions to remain in place through mid-2023 before economic uncertainties force weaker freight levels and demand for new equipment eases.”
McNealy said: “demand overall remains healthy, cancellations are low, although we expect some cancel-rebooking activity to occur in Q4, and October’s backlog-to-build ratio saw an uptick in tandem with the increase in orders.”