ACT Research: Long Backlog Horizons Challenge US Trailer Manufacturers

According to this quarter’s issue of ACT Research’s Trailer Components Report, the U.S. trailer industry backlog grew 3% sequentially in December but ended 2021 9% below the backlog for 2020.

“Overall, last year closed with the U.S. trailer industry facing a backlog-to-build ratio of eight months,” Frank Maly, director of CV transportation analysis and research at ACT Research, said. “December was the second consecutive sequential gain. After remaining well over 10 months earlier in the year, backlog-to-build averaged eight months from May through December, an indication of OEMs’ efforts to closely balance their order boards and their potential production levels. The dry van category closed 2021 with an 8.7-month backlog-to-build, while reefers, normally the category with the industry’s longest backlog, ended 2021 at 8.3 months. Surprisingly, the long horizons occurred in the vocational categories, with heavy low-beds currently stretching into early Q2/23 at current production rates.

“The industry remains challenged by component and materials issues, as well as staffing, although our projections do call for a gradual increase in production rates as the year progresses. That said, OEMs’ efforts to ramp volume continue to come short of their preferences. Supply chain issues will continue to slow OEM production increases. Frequently mentioned in supply constraint discussions are castings, forgings, wiring, lights, suspensions, axles, wood and tires. As one contact noted, the challenges are widespread and varied: ‘It’s something different every day.’”

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