ACT Research: Preliminary Net Trailer Orders Indicate Slowdown Continues

Preliminary net trailer orders were little changed nominally from March to April. However, at 13,700 units, orders were higher compared to last April, up 21% year over year. Seasonal adjustment (SA) at this point in the cycle boosts April’s tally to 17,300 units. Final April results will be available later this month. This preliminary market estimate should be within ±5% of the final order tally.

“Against year-ago data, with pent-up demand beginning to wane and supply-chain congestion, for the most part, cleared, order activity continues to meet expectations,” Jennifer McNealy, director CV Market Research & Publications at ACT Research, said. “Despite the positive year-over-year comparison, net orders remain challenged by a backdrop of weak for-hire trucker profitability, albeit with some green shoots of improvement beginning to show. Anecdotal commentary from trailer manufacturers and suppliers through the past several months have indicated this slowing, as they have shared that orders are coming, but at a more tepid pace when compared to the last few years.

“While we do see fleets starting to make more money later this year, thereby increasing their ability to purchase equipment on the horizon, the impact likely will be muted for the trailer industry, as we continue to expect their willingness to spend those available dollars will lean toward the purchase of new power units ahead of the EPA’s implementation of 2027 regulations, which we believe has already begun.

“Additional anecdotal information we’ve heard this month from those on the front lines of the trailer industry is that the ‘pause button’ is expected to remain pressed during this year of transition. The industry’s largest segments remain under pressure, cancellations are anticipated to continue their oscillation into and out of elevated territory as dealers and fleets recalibrate their inventory and immediate needs, and external forces like the US and Mexican presidential elections and interest rates remain on the closely watched list.

ACT Research’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report provides a monthly review of the current US trailer market statistics, as well as trailer OEM build plans and market indicators divided by all major trailer types, including backlogs, build, inventory, new orders, cancellations, net orders, and factory shipments. It is accompanied by a database that gives historical information from 1996 to the present, as well as a ready-to-use graph packet, to allow organizations in the trailer production supply chain, and those following the investment value of trailers, trailer OEMs, and suppliers to better understand the market.

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