April Trailer Orders Surprise

New U.S. trailer orders of 18.6k were up 4% month-over-month, but after accounting for cancellations, net orders slid to 14.7k units, down 6% from March. Year-to-date, net orders are 37% below last year, according to ACT Research. Near-record backlogs have filled 2019 build slots for many OEMs, and there continues to be some resistance toward booking orders into next year, resulting in the modest order volumes.

“New orders in April were surprisingly stronger on a month-over-month basis than the double-digit decline expected by seasonal patterns, but higher cancellations pushed net orders below last month’s level,” said Frank Maly, Director – CV Transportation Analysis and Research at ACT Research. “Most surprising was extremely weak reefer volumes, with new orders off 45% sequentially month-over-month and 65% year-over-year. A surge in cancellations helped push reefer net orders to the lowest monthly volume since December of 2000, when the industry posted a net-negative order month.”

April trailer orders

Additionally, Maly said, “Although up more than 20% year-over-year, industry backlog posted a fourth consecutive sequential decline, and that pattern is likely to continue for the next couple of months, particularly for dry vans and reefers.”