ACT Research: Preliminary Net Trailer Orders Remain Seasonally Soft

August’s preliminary net trailer orders increased sequentially to 11,500 but were lower against longer-term comparisons, according to ACT Research. As one of the weakest order months of the year, August’s tally received a seasonal adjustment boost to 14,700 units. Final August results will be available later this month. This preliminary market estimate should be within 5% of the final order tally.

“Preliminary net orders, at 14,700 seasonally adjusted, preliminary net orders were 6% lower sequentially. With still high backlogs, 2024 order boards only minimally open and August as a traditionally weak order month, it remains too soon for robust expectations,” Jennifer McNealy, director of commercial vehicle market research and publications at ACT Research, said. “Additionally, the data continue to provide mixed messages, with cancellations remaining elevated, driven primarily by the dry van and flatbed segments, even as backlogs remain at healthy levels. In July, the BL/BU ratio was north of six months in aggregate, with some specialty segments having no available build slots until the beginning of 2025. Demand may be softening, but it’s not gone. The next few months should provide more illumination on the 2024 outlook as orders move from the current negotiation stage into booked business.”

When asked about the backlog’s trajectory, McNealy said, “Using preliminary August orders and the corresponding OEM build plans from the August State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report (July data) for guidance, we would expect the trailer backlog to decrease by around 21,700 units to about 135,600 units when complete August data are released. As this number is derived from estimated data, note there will be some variability to reported backlogs when final data are collected.”

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