Trailer Shipments Continue to Soften

AS THE YEAR 2000 was winding down, so were shipments of complete truck trailers.

The industry turned out 15,416 complete trailers during November, according to preliminary estimates compiled by the U S Bureau of Census. It was the third consecutive month in which trailer shipments have declined and the fourth decline in five months.

With the slide, monthly trailer shipments have reached pre-boom levels. The 15,416 complete trailers shipped during November were the least the industry produced since 1993 - the last year that trailer shipments for the year were below 200,000.

Thanks to a fast start, manufacturers broke the 200,000 mark again in 2000. Through the first 11 months of the year, the industry shipped an estimated 226,154 complete trailers, an average of more than 20,500 per month. But in July, shipments fell below 20,000 for the first time in two months, and they have been declining almost monthly since then.

November's shipments of complete trailers were down 36% from a year earlier. The incomplete market, however, fared somewhat better. Manufacturers shipped an estimated 1,928 containers and container chassis in November, down 18% from November 1999. The 386 dollies and converter gear shipped in November topped year-ago levels by 38%.

Truck Sales Slump Truck sales continued to soften in November, according to figures compiled by Ward's Communications. Overall, sales were off 3% from November 1999, but only because light-duty trucks remained firm.

Class 1 trucks (GVW ratings of 6,000 pounds or less) were virtually unchanged in November. Dealers sold 364,606 Class 1 trucks in November, less than 0.5% below November 1999. For the first 11 months of 2000, sales of Class 1 trucks totaled 4,759,579, up 5% from the corresponding period of 1999.

Class 2 trucks (GVW ratings of 6,001 to 10,000 pounds) were down 1% from November 1999 but were up 4% for the year. The 190,734 units sold during the month resulted in sales of 2,239,023 Class 2 trucks for the first 11 months of 2000.

Class 3 trucks (GVW ratings of 10,001 to 14,000 pounds) lost 10% compared with November 1999 and slipped 3% for year to date. Sales totaled 8,612 Class 3 trucks for the month and 107,804 for the first 11 months of 2000.

Class 4 trucks (GVW ratings of 14,001 to 16,000 pounds) edged up 4% for the month, but year-to-date sales were off 4%. Dealers sold 3,666 Class 4 trucks in November and 43,798 during the first 11 months of 2000.

Class 5 trucks (GVW ratings of 16,001 to 19,500 pounds) also posted gains in November and a slight loss for the year. The 2,278 Class 5 trucks sold during the month brought to 26,759 the total sold for the first 11 months of 2000.

Class 6 trucks (GVW ratings of 19,501 to 26,000 pounds) had a down month, but they remained ahead of the pace set in 1999. Customers bought 2,892 Class 6 trucks during November, down 27% from a year ago. However, the 48,284 Class 6 trucks sold during the first 11 months of the year topped 1999 year-to-date sales by 11%.

Class 7 trucks (GVW ratings of 26,001 to 33,000 pounds) were down 22% from November 1999 and were down 5% year to date. The 7,540 Class 7 trucks sold during the month resulted in year-to-date sales of 115,356.

Class 8 trucks (GVW ratings above 33,000 pounds) dropped 44% in November and were down 18% for the first 11 months of the year. Dealers sold 12,262 Class 8 trucks for the month and 196,759 for the year.

Intermodal Sets Records In other areas: - Intermodal shipments set a record in 2000, according to figures compiled by the Association of American Railroads. Intermodal traffic totaled 9.18 million units, up 3% from 1999 - the previous record year. Also setting a record in 2000 was total volume, which was estimated at 1.462 trillion ton-miles, up 1.7% from 1999. This was the fifth consecutive record set for intermodal traffic and the third for ton-miles.

- Industrial production fell 0.6% in December after two months of smaller losses, according to the Federal Reserve. At 147.3% of its 1992 average, industrial production was 3.1% higher than in December 1999.

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