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ACT Research: Preliminary Net Trailer Orders Indicate Slowdown Continues

May 17, 2024, 07:00 AM
Filed Under: Trucking

Preliminary net trailer orders were little changed nominally from March to April. However, at 13,700 units, orders were higher compared to last April, up 21 percent y/y. Seasonal adjustment (SA) at this point in the cycle boosts April’s tally to 17,300 units. Final April results will be available later this month.

“Against year-ago data, with pent-up demand beginning to wane and supply-chain congestion, for the most part, cleared, order activity continues to meet expectations,” said Jennifer McNealy, Director CV Market Research & Publications at ACT Research. She added, “Despite the positive year-over-year comparison, net orders remain challenged by a backdrop of weak for-hire trucker profitability, albeit with some green shoots of improvement beginning to show. Anecdotal commentary from trailer manufacturers and suppliers through the past several months have indicated this slowing, as they have shared that orders are coming, but at a more tepid pace when compared to the last few years.”

She continued, “While we do see fleets starting to make more money later this year, thereby increasing their ability to purchase equipment on the horizon, the impact likely will be muted for the trailer industry, as we continue to expect their willingness to spend those available dollars will lean toward the purchase of new power units ahead of the EPA’s implementation of 2027 regulations, which we believe has already begun.”

McNealy added, “Additional anecdotal information we’ve heard this month from those on the front lines of the trailer industry is that the ‘pause button’ is expected to remain pressed during this year of transition. The industry’s largest segments remain under pressure, cancellations are anticipated to continue their oscillation into and out of elevated territory as dealers and fleets recalibrate their inventory and immediate needs, and external forces like the US and Mexican presidential elections and interest rates remain on the closely watched list.”

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