Despite a Drop in Preliminary Net Trailer Orders, Demand Remains Healthy

According to ACT Research, March’s preliminary net trailer orders decreased sequentially and were lower against longer-term comparisons, with 16,800 units projected to have been booked during the month. Final March results will be available later in April. This preliminary market estimate should be within 5% of the final order tally.

“Preliminary net orders were 33% lower compared to February’s intake and down 56% versus the same month last year,” Jennifer McNealy, director of commercial vehicle market research and publications at ACT Research, said. “Orders pulling back in March is a month earlier than normal seasonality would suggest, but near record-level order backlogs are easy to point to in explaining away the earlier-than-expected deceleration.

“Despite March’s drop in orders, we believe demand remains healthy, and we’re seeing improved, albeit still somewhat challenged, build data. While we are still waiting for March data, February’s backlog-to-build ratio, a proxy for industry demand strength, was 8.5 months, significantly higher than the historical average. That means fleets needing trailers will need to maintain their patience.

“Using preliminary March orders and the corresponding OEM build plans from the March State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report (February data) for guidance, the trailer backlog should decrease by around 12,000 units to about 230,000 units when complete March data are released. That said, with orders being preliminary and the build number a projection, there will be some variability in reported backlogs when final data are collected.”

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