According to preliminary data from ACT Research, net trailer orders increased nominally from November to December. At 24,300 units, orders were lower compared to last December, down nearly 58% year over year. Still in the peak order season, seasonal adjustment lowers December’s tally considerably, to 17,200 units. Final December results will be available later this month. This preliminary market estimate should be within 5% of the final order tally.
“While orders were down materially from year-ago levels, preliminary net orders, at 17,200 seasonally adjusted, were about 10% higher sequentially,” Jennifer McNealy, director of commercial vehicle market research and publications at ACT Research, said. “After a disappointing, although not unexpected, drop last month, December’s preliminary net orders aligned with less-than-stellar expectations, particularly amid a backdrop of weak profitability for truckers and anecdotal commentary from trailer manufacturers who have shared that orders are coming but at a slower pace than they have the last few years.
“This month’s results continue to support our thesis that when fleets don’t make money, their ability and/or willingness to purchase equipment is muted. That said, the lower orders don’t indicate a catastrophic year in the offing either, simply the slowest December we’ve seen since before the pandemic began. Other indicators being watched closely include cancellations, which oscillated above comfortable levels for most segments in December, and the backlog-to-build ratio, which in aggregate is weakening, now around five months. However, some specialty segments have no available build slots until late in 2024 at the earliest, while others are in the three-month range.”
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