US Trailer Orders Open 2022 Low, OEMs Carefully Managing Order Acceptance

January net U.S. trailer orders of 26,595 units increased less than 1% from the previous month and were more than 15% lower compared with January of 2021, according to this month’s issue of ACT Research’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailer Report. Before accounting for cancellations, new orders of 28,000 units were down about 2% compared with December and almost 15% lower than January 2021.

“The effort that OEMs have made to prevent untenable backlog growth through controlling order acceptance continues. That effort has been highly driven through dry vans and reefers,” Frank Maly, director of commercial vehicle transportation analysis and research at ACT Research, said. “Expect the conservative order acceptance stance to continue for the near term; until meaningful production increases can be implemented, this will be status quo. Allocation of production between fleets and dealers will continue to be the norm, with dealers and, correspondingly, their small to medium fleet customer base likely more significantly challenged.”

In discussing the backlog-to-build ratio, Maly said, “A slight increase in backlog. A slight decrease in production rates. Those calculate to a slight increase in backlog-to-build at the close of January. The 8.3-month level for total trailers commits the industry into very early Q4/22 at current build rates, and this is the highest level since last June. We would expect this metric to remain stubbornly high, and it could also be approaching the Christmas timeframe some time in Q2, projecting an early calendar-year 2022 sell-out.”

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