Rocky Mountain Trucking LLC

Improving component availability and pent up demand for new trailers helped lift net trailer orders considerably last month. The 47,860 units booked in October were 83% higher than the month before, up 57% on a seasonally-adjusted basis and 171% above October 2021, according to this month’s issue of ACT Research’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report.

ACT Research Director of Commercial Vehicle Market Research & Publications Jennifer McNealy said discussions in the past month indicate trailer OEM business conditions, including 2023 demand, material/component supply chain, and labor, are on-par with September, “although swinging toward the ‘better’ side of the pendulum.”

FTR added that backlog levels jumped 13% on the increased orders after a downward trend for most of the year. October build rates were down 9% from September but were up 3% from October 2021. Build rates have stabilized in a narrow range of from 23,000 to 27,000 for eight of the last nine months.

“Trailer manufacturers seem to have found themselves in a goldilocks environment for the moment. Demand for new equipment remains robust despite the worries of a weak economy, and suppliers and labor have been able to maintain a solid level of output since early this year,” said Jonathan Starks, FTR’s chief executive officer and chief intelligence officer. “We expect these conditions to remain in place through mid-2023 before economic uncertainties force weaker freight levels and demand for new equipment eases.”

McNealy added that demand remains healthy and cancellations are low, although she expects some cancel-rebooking activity to occur this quarter. “This year’s backlogs are filled and build slot availability in 2023 varies widely by OEM,” she added, “but continues to open more fully, which helps explain customers’ ability to place orders at the pace exhibited the past two months.”