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ACT Research: U.S. Trailer Industry Increases Build Rate in February

March 29, 2023, 07:10 AM
Filed Under: Trucking

Reflecting a higher build rate, the backlog-to-build ratio contracted to 8.5 months in February, after closing January at 9.9 months. For context, the average since Q3 2021 has been in the 8-month neighborhood, according to this month’s issue of ACT Research’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report.

“With most categories showing higher build in February, backlogs slid slightly, down 0.5 percent sequentially (but +23 percent year over year). The dry van backlog was 0.4 percent lower month over month, with reefers down 0.6 percent, and flats nearly 4 percent lower compared to January,” said Jennifer McNealy, Director–CV Market Research & Publications at ACT Research.

“Despite OEMs expanding availability, 2023 is not yet fully open, partially because manufacturers are facing volatile commodity costs, long lead times for some input components, and improving but still challenging labor considerations, but also because OEMs are reluctant to overpromise and underdeliver on both price and timing.”

She added, “Demand overall remains robust, but some OEMs shared this month that conversations of softening are happening. That said, the same manufacturers indicated the talk has not yet turned into slowing orders or cancellations.”

McNealy concluded, “Other OEMs told us they are seeing a few actual cancellations, but the cancel data is primarily a reflection of spec changes and plant rewrites. Some smaller fleets and owner operators have cancelled orders, but large fleets remain eager to fill the void. OEM conversations also continue to suggest supply-chain constraints are likely to remain a limiting factor to production in 2023, with manufacturers mentioning a renewed fluctuation in materials costs, particularly steel, and continuing long lead times of some components.”

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