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ACT Research: Long Backlog Horizons Challenge U.S. Trailer Manufacturers

February 18, 2022, 07:02 AM
Filed Under: Trucking

According to this quarter’s issue of ACT Research’s Trailer Components Report, the U.S. trailer industry backlog grew 3 percent sequentially in December, but ended 2021 9 percent below the previous year.

“Overall, last year closed with the U.S. trailer industry facing a backlog-to-build ratio of 8 months,” said Frank Maly, Director–CV Transportation Analysis and Research at ACT Research. “December was the second consecutive sequential gain. After remaining well over 10 months earlier in the year, backlog-to-build averaged 8.0 months from May through December, an indication of OEMs’ efforts to closely balance their orderboards and their potential production levels.”

Maly added, “The dry van category closed 2021 with an 8.7-month backlog-to-build, while reefers, normally the category with the industry’s longest backlog, ended 2021 at 8.3 months. Surprisingly, the long horizons occurred in the vocational categories, with heavy lowbeds currently stretching into early Q2’23 at current production rates.”

He noted, “The industry remains challenged by component and materials issues, as well as staffing, although our projections do call for a gradual increase in production rates as the year progresses. That said, OEMs’ efforts to ramp volume continue to come short of their preferences.” Maly concluded, “Supply-chain issues will continue to slow OEM production increases. Frequently mentioned in supply constraint discussions are castings, forgings, wiring, lights, suspensions, axles, wood, and tires. As one contact noted, the challenges are widespread and varied: ‘It’s something different every day’.”

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