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ACT Research: Preliminary Net Trailer Orders Remain Seasonally Soft

September 19, 2023, 07:05 AM
Filed Under: Trucking

August’s preliminary net trailer orders increased sequentially, to 11,500 units, but were lower against longer-term comparisons. As one of the weakest order months of the year, seasonal adjustment (SA) boosts August’s SA tally to 14,700 units. Final August results will be available later this month.

“Preliminary net orders, at 14,700 seasonally adjusted, were 6 percent lower sequentially,” said Jennifer McNealy, Director CV Market Research & Publications at ACT Research. She added, “With still high backlogs, 2024 orderboards only minimally open, and August as a traditionally weak order month, it remains too soon for robust expectations.”

McNealy continued, “Additionally, the data continue to provide mixed messages, with cancellations remaining elevated, driven primarily by the dry van and flatbed segments, even as backlogs remain at healthy levels. In July, the BL/BU ratio was north of six months in aggregate, with some specialty segments having no available build slots until the beginning of 2025.” She concluded, “Demand may be softening, but it’s not gone. The next few months should provide more illumination on the 2024 outlook, as orders move from the current negotiation stage into booked business.”

When asked about the backlog’s trajectory, she said, “Using preliminary August orders and the corresponding OEM build plans from the August State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report (July data) for guidance, we would expect the trailer backlog to decrease by around 21,700 units to about 135,600 units when complete August data are released. As this number is derived from estimated data, note there will be some variability to reported backlogs when final data are collected.”

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