ACT Research: Preliminary Net Trailer Orders Indicate Slowdown Continues

Preliminary net trailer orders dropped nominally from April to May and, at 6,000 units, were lower compared to last May, down 46% year over year, according to ACT Research. Seasonal adjustment at this point in the cycle boosts May’s tally to 7,100 units. Final May results will be available later this month. This preliminary market estimate should be within ±5% of the final order tally.

“A year ago, we knew that with pent-up demand beginning to wane and supply-chain congestion, for the most part, cleared, 2024 order activity would be slower compared to 2023,” Jennifer McNealy, director CV market research and publications at ACT Research, said. “With continuing weak for-hire truck market fundamentals, and already-filled dealer inventories, it looks like trailer demand will remain restrained for some time. For orders, we are now in the weaker months of the annual cycle, suggesting that there is no catalyst for stronger orders until the fall and the opening of 2025 orders.”

“While we do see fleets starting to make more money later this year, thereby increasing their ability to purchase equipment, the impact likely will be muted for the trailer industry, as we continue to expect their willingness to spend will lean toward the purchase of new power units ahead of the EPA’s implementation of 2027 regulations, which we believe has already begun,” McNealy said. “Industry anecdotes suggest that the ‘pause button’ is expected to remain pressed in 2024. The industry’s largest segments remain under pressure, cancellations remain elevated as dealers and fleets recalibrate their needs, and external forces like the US presidential election and interest rates remain on the closely watched list.”

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