Trailer Shipments Near Record Levels

TRAILER SHIPMENTS continued on a torrid pace in May, according to figures compiled by the U S Bureau of Census.

The industry turned out an estimated 28,045 trailers during the month, preliminary figures indicate-up 42% from a year earlier. This estimate represents the third-best month ever recorded. The industry shipped an estimated 29,238 complete trailers in March. March 1995, with 28,957 trailers shipped, also topped the totals from this most recent Census report.

The emphasis, however, is on preliminary. The Census Bureau has released major revisions in last year's preliminary estimates. The 42% increase in May is the result of comparing May's preliminary estimates with the revised figures for May 1997-not the original estimate for the month. Initially the Census Bureau estimated the industry shipped 23,425 complete trailers in May 1997. That estimate has been revised downward to 19,702, a 16% decrease from the preliminary figure. A complete report on the Census report on trailer shipments for 1997 will be published in the August Trailer/Body Builders.

In addition to the 28,045 complete trailers shipped in May 1998, the industry turned out an estimated 1,572 containers and container chassis during the month, down 3% from a year earlier. Manufacturers also shipped an estimated 386 dollies and converter gear during May, up sharply from the 166 shipped during May 1997.

Through the first five months of 1998, manufacturers shipped an estimated 135,763 complete trailers, up 45% from the revised total for the first five months of 1997.

Truck Sales Up Truck sales moved strongly upward in May, according to figures compiled by the American Automobile Manufacturers Association. Led by a surge in medium-duty models, retail truck sales rose 14% from the corresponding month in 1997.

Class 1 trucks (GVW ratings of 6,000 pounds or less) were up 9% for the month and 4% for the first five months of the year. Dealers sold 461,898 Class 1 trucks in May and 1,936,774 year to date.

Class 2 trucks (GVW ratings of 6,001 to 10,000 pounds) had retail sales of 187,306 units, up 28% from a year earlier. The 812,240 Class 2 trucks sold during the first five months of 1998 were 16% more than were sold during the corresponding period of 1997.

Class 3 trucks (GVW ratings of 10,001 to 14,000 pounds) were up sharply. Buyers grabbed 9,167 Class 3 trucks in May, up 98% from a year earlier. Year-to-date, sales were up 52%.

Class 4 trucks (GVW ratings of 14,001 to 16,000 pounds) dropped 24% and 26% for the month and the year, respectively. Retail sales slipped to 4,102 Class 4 trucks in May and 17,441 for the first five months of the year.

Class 6 trucks (GVW ratings of 19,501 to 26,000 pounds) finished the month 48% ahead of May 1997 and 53% up from the first five months of 1997. The 2,331 Class 6 trucks sold during the month resulted in a total of 11,789 units sold for the first five months of 1998.

Class 7 trucks (GVW ratings of 26,001 to 33,000 pounds) had a down month in May. Dealers sold 9,555 Class 7 trucks, off 8% from the same time last year. Sales for the first five months of 1998 totaled 45,987, 1% short of year-earlier levels.

Class 8 trucks (GVW ratings above 33,000 pounds) were up 14% for May and 16% for the first five months of 1998. Another 16,946 Class 8 trucks went into service in May, a total of 80,506 for the year.

In other areas:

* Intermodal shipments were barely exceeding year-ago levels for the first 25 weeks of 1998, according to figures compiled by the Association of American Railroads. Piggyback trailers continued to decline. The 1,592,188 trailers shipped on railcars during the first 25 weeks of 1998 were down 3% from the corresponding period of 1997. Container shipments, however, continued to grow. The 2,580,692 containers that rode the rails during the first 25 weeks of this year were 3.5% more than were transported during the same period last year. Overall, intermodal shipments were up 0.9%.* Industrial production rose 0.5% in May after revised increases of 0.3% in April and 0.4% in March, according to the Federal Reserve. At 128.8% of its 1992 average, total industrial production in May was 4.4% higher than it was in May 1997.

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