Act Research: U.S. Trailer Demand Under Growing Pressure

May net orders, at 6,100 units, were about 46% lower year over year and 7,650 units below April’s intake. May’s tally brings the year-to-date net order activity to 68,200 units, 25% lower than the first five months of 2023, with its faster paced order environment, pent-up demand and moderately congested supply chain, according to this month’s issue of ACT Research’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report.

“Seasonally adjusted, May’s orders were nearly 7,200 units compared to a 17,300 SA rate in April. On that basis, orders decreased 59% m/m. Dry van orders contracted 85% year over year, while reefers, albeit at low volumes, were still an improvement from last May’s negative net order tally. Flats were 37% lower compared to May 2023,” Jennifer McNealy, director–CV market research and publications at ACT Research, said. “Total cancellations again oscillated to the higher side of the pendulum’s arc in May. The cancellation rate rose to 3.2% of the backlog, from April’s 1.5% rate. Eight of ten markets remained at or above the 1% mark, with OEMs indicating cancellations from multiple fleets and dealers.”

“In this capex constrained environment, and with an expensive EPA mandate landing in 2027, fleet willingness to spend on trailers is under growing pressure,” McNealy said. “Coupling these factors and overstocked dealer inventories that are proving harder to move and the absence of a need for carriers to boost trailer:tractor ratios in the short-term, as capacity remains plentiful and spot market volumes and rates remain under pressure from private fleet capacity expansions, and it adds up to a challenging part of the cycle for the U.S. trailer industry.”

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