ACT Research: Trailer Industry Concerns Shift Toward Demand

According to this month’s issue of ACT Research’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report, peak order season opened in September, and although net orders in November continued to show relatively healthy bookings, they were softer than the previous two months. Unlike the last few years with challenges solidly on the supply-side of the pendulum, trailer industry concerns now rest on the demand-side.

November net orders, at 21,100 units, were 47% lower year over year and more than 14,000 units below October’s total.

“With 35% of the year’s orders historically booked in Q4, the quarter’s seasonal factors run roughshod on the nominal data. Seasonally adjusted, November’s orders reduce to 15,700 units. On that basis, orders decreased 40% month over month,” Jennifer McNealy, director of commercial vehicle market research and publications at ACT Research, said. “Regarding orders and expectations for 2024, trailer manufacturers reinforced this month what they have been telling us for a while: negotiations are ongoing, but order placement is at a slower pace than what occurred the past few years.

“November’s per day build rate decreased 3% to 1,178 from October’s 1,220-unit per day rate. Overall, build was more than 12% lower month over month, mostly due to two fewer build days in November. Supply-chain issues have essentially normalized, with OEMs reporting smaller, less impactful disruptions. Despite being in the third month of the new peak order season, build outpaced orders in November by about 2,500 units. Trailer backlogs contracted 32% against 2022’s supply-chain constrained and pent-up demand heavy environment.”

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