Trailer shipments continue to climb

Truck trailer shipments continued to grow in the first quarter, according to figures compiled by Economic Planning Associates in Smithtown, New York.

The EPA Inc survey of trailer manufacturers indicated that shipments edged up 6% from the previous quarter and were 5% higher than the first three months of 2005.

U.S. manufacturers shipped 62,250 complete trailers during the first quarter, a pace that would produce just under 250,000 trailers for the year. The industry's output included 32,750 dry-freight vans, 10,000 insulated, and 2,300 miscellaneous vans. Insulated trailers were the strongest van segment in the first quarter, up more than 14%.

Other types of trailers began 2006 with a strong start. The 2,400 tank trailers shipped during the first quarter were 20% above year-earlier levels. Bulk commodity trailers were even stronger-up 33% on shipments of 800 units.

Results for the remaining trailer categories that EPA Inc tracks include: platforms, 7,500 shipped for the quarter, up 19%; lowbeds, 2,700 shipped, down 2%; and dump trailers, 2,600 shipped, up 16%.

"Despite the problems besetting the trucking industry such as sharply higher fuel costs and continued constraints on driver availability and retention, demand for trailer equipment remains upbeat," says Peter Toja, president of EPA Inc. "In addition, higher equipment prices have yet to dampen enthusiasm for trailers. As we reported in our last summary, we remain constructive on the outlook for trailers during the next two years."

Container and chassis shipments slowed in the first quarter but were running 55% ahead of the similar period of 2005.

"With Wabash moving out of the market, it remains to be seen how the remaining domestic manufacturers fare against Mexico-based Hyundai and other Asian producers," Toja said.

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