FTR reports final September net trailer orders at 11,800 units, down 16 percent month over month and 66 percent year over year. Dry van orders fell even further than overall trailer orders, down 43 percent month over month and 80 percent year over year.
In spite of falling trailer orders, build for September was up an impressive 10 percent per day over August. The lower than expected orders and stronger build rates resulted in the backlog dipping below 100,000 trailers for the first time since January 2014. Trailer orders have now totalled 226,000 units for the past 12 months.
“The lower order rate in September is consistent with a cooling market in 2017. Fleets are uncertain and nervous about freight demand and declining profits. They are not going to place huge orders covering demand for the next 12 months, as they have the last two years,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “Lead times are much more reasonable, so fleets will evaluate their needs on a month-to-month basis for a while. This means order rates should come in line with production fairly soon.
“September production was surprisingly strong after two noticeable weaker months in July and August. Some OEMs boosted production after the vacation breaks, and there were also more pup trailers built for package carriers in anticipation of the holiday shipping season. Factory shipments were way up, cutting into bloated inventories. This is a positive sign for trucking in Q4.”
The full trailer data is available as part of FTR’s North American Truck & Trailer Outlook service.