ACT: September Net Trailer Orders Roughly One-Third of 2015 Levels

ACT Research’s preliminary estimate for U.S. net trailer orders for September 2016 is 12,950 units. Additionally, ACT noted that for the fourth time in the past five months the freight index rose faster than the capacity index.

“Season patterns, which are based upon historical trends, indicated industry net order volume could push to a double-digit sequential gain in September. Our preliminary estimate shows a much weaker order pace, with net orders down approximately 16% from August,” said Frank Maly, ACT’s director of CV Transportation Analysis & Research. “An extremely strong September 2015 set a very high bar for [year-over-year] comparison; this estimate shows September volume approximately 65% below the same month last year. It is apparent that the 2016/17 trailer order season has stumbled out of the gates to a very slow start. The caution frequently expressed by fleets regarding equipment investment this order cycle is very evident in September’s volume. On a positive note, initial reports indicate an easing in cancellation rates compared to recent months, although they do remain well above rates of this time last year.”

As far as the freight index goes, while the changes remain small, the data suggest that excess equipment additions relative to freight growth have come to an end, and the process of rebalancing capacity and freight is underway.

Reported purchasing intentions data showed a sharp drop in September, falling to their lowest level since February 2010. Over the last four years an average of almost 60% of respondents have reported plans to purchase in a three-month window. In September, that number fell to 30%. Though the trend has been falling for the past seven months, the September reading may be an anomaly.

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