ACT Research Says Trailer Orders Fell Again in March but Reefers Way Up

U.S. trailer order volume came in below previous year volume for the fourth straight month in March, but OEMs still booked nearly 16,000 net orders during the month, according to this month’s issue of ACT Research’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailer Report. Near-record backlogs have filled 2019 build slots for many OEMs, and there continues to be some resistance toward booking orders into next year, the research firm states.

March trailer orders. Click for larger image.

“While some fleets have fulfilled investment plans for the year, others reportedly are seeking more equipment this year,” said Frank Maly, Director–CV Transportation Analysis and Research at ACT Research. “However, their efforts will likely be in vain, with dry van and reefer orderboards consuming most available production slots for the year.”

Additionally, Maly said, “Factory inventory was a mixed bag across categories, but most unusual was reefers, up 60% year-over-year and at the highest level in our historical database, which started in 1990.” The report noted that while the cancellation rate continued at acceptable levels, the high backlog, at 7.5 months, helped disguise higher cancellation volume. Cancellations have averaged more than 2,300 per month for the last four months, the longest string of higher volume months since the mid-year 2016 market inflection.