EPA Inc sees end to drop in trailer demand

The two-year slide in truck trailer demand continued into the fourth quarter of 2001, according to the latest survey by Economic Planning Associates Inc (EPA) of Smithtown, New York.

Trailer shipments by manufacturers in the fourth quarter of 2001 amounted to approximately 29,400 units. This is 16.2% lower than the previous quarter and 41.6% below the fourth quarter of 2000.

For all of 2001, trailer shipments amounted to 145,400 units, a sharp 45.4% drop from the 2000 year level of 266,100 units, reported EPA. The high point came in the first quarter of 2000, when truck trailer shipments were 81,250 units.

Only the very small category of drop-frame vans held up last year, and actually increased almost 3%. However, the total number of vans of all categories dropped last year by 48.4%. Insulated vans dropped 40%, EPA said.

Other major trailer types declined as well. Platforms were down 47%, but lowbeds dropped only 14.6%. Dump trailers were off 36.3%. Liquid tanks and dry bulk trailers were down 37%. Containers and chassis together were off almost 50%.

“We look for a modest recovery in trailer demand this year,” said Peter Toja, president of EPA Inc. “The free-fall in truck trailer shipments during the last two years will stabilize in the first and second quarters of this year before beginning a rebound in the second half of 2002, which will extend into 2003 and beyond.

“The anticipated expansion of our economy and a number of customer markets, along with significant replacement pressures among various fleets, will support increasing trailer demand for a number of years to come,” Toja said.

For the economy as a whole, EPA said that the modest contraction last year stabilized in the fourth quarter and “we are now on the path to recovery”.

“We expect manufacturing output to begin advancing this quarter and accelerate in the second half of 2002 and into 2003,” the EPA survey report said. “Continued high levels of construction activities will also support demand for a variety of trailer equipment.” Complete details and short-term and long-term forecasts of customer market activities as well as individual trailer types are contained in the February 2002 edition of EPA’s quarterly Truck Trailer Report to clients. For information, phone 631-864-4900.

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