REPORT: “Extended Backlogs” Lead To Lowest Trailer Orders In More Than 2 Years

Little Rock, Arkansas – Preliminary trailer orders for March 2019 are almost 50% below the same time last year and the lowest since September 2016.

According to trucking data analysts at FTR, March 2019 trailer orders came in at 13,500.

However, ACT Research, also a leading trucking data analyst, reports preliminary orders for March tallied 15,600.

This is a significant discrepancy between the two.


Even still, both numbers reflect a drop of close to 50% from 2018.

“It appears that the industry entered a bit of a holding pattern in March, as order volume declined significantly from both the previous month and this time last year,” Frank Maly, ACT’s Director of CV Transportation Analysis and Research, stated.

Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles, commented, “This low order number is not surprising. Backlogs had fallen little so far in 2019, and are at unreasonable levels. Fleets still need more trailers, based on the robust production, so demand has not changed in the short run.”

Further, Ake explained, “The weak orders are totally the result of the lack of available production openings. However, cancellations will continue to be a factor due to a large, fluid, backlog.”


Maly added “Although current backlogs consume the majority of available build slots this year, particularly in the dry van and reefer segments, we continue to hear that OEMs are reluctant to fully open the 2020 orderboards.”

Maly said buyer’s concerns center around “materials and component pricing, which would obviously have measurable impact on future pricing.”

Despite the concerns Maly said OEMs are continuing to ramp up production. “Also worth noting, given extended backlogs, OEMs are pushing to deliver trailers as quickly as possible; preliminary information indicates production crossed the 30k unit mark last month for only the second time in industry history,” he analyzed.

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