Trailer Shipments Stay on Torrid Pace

TRAILER SHIPMENTS remained at an unprecedented high in September, according to preliminary figures compiled by the U S Bureau of Census.

The industry shipped an estimated 31,605 complete trailers for the month. Combined with the July and August totals, manufacturers shipped 90,475 complete trailers during the third quarter of 1998-an average of more than 30,000 per month. Officially, the best month on record was 28,957 set in March 1995.

In addition to the 31,605 complete trailers shipped during September, manufacturers also shipped an estimated 1,882 containers and chassis, down 45% from September 1997 and 324 dollies and converter gear, up 153%.

Should these preliminary figures for complete trailers hold, 1998 promises to be the industry's best year on record. Through the first nine months, manufacturers shipped an estimated 254,092 complete trailers. At its present pace, the industry would only need 10 months to exceed the record 279,144 trailers shipped in 1995. For the first nine months of 1998, the industry shipped an average of 28,232 complete trailers per month. Over a 12-month period, such a pace would result in shipments of 338,790 trailers, topping the previous record by almost 60,000 units.

Truck Sales Strong Truck sales continued strong, according to figures compiled by the American Automobile Manufacturers Association.

Class 1 trucks (GVW ratings of 6,000 pounds or less) were up 4% from September 1997 and edged up 3% year to date. Customers took delivery on 366,875 Class 1 trucks in September and 3,506,004 for the first nine months of 1998.

Class 2 trucks (GVW ratings of 6,001 to 10,000 pounds) were up 17% for the month and 18% for the year. Dealers sold 159,036 Class 2 trucks in September, resulting in year-to-date sales of 1,464,208 units.

Class 3 trucks (GVW ratings of 10,001 to 14,000 pounds) were one of three GVW classes posting triple-digit gains from September 1997. The 8,752 Class 3 trucks sold in September were 180% more than year-earlier sales. The 73,599 trucks sold for the first nine months of 1998 were up 80% from the first three quarters of 1997.

Class 4 trucks (GVW ratings of 14,001 to 16,000 pounds) slipped 17% for the month and 22% year to date. Sales for the month and year to date were 3,243 and 32,731 respectively.

Class 5 trucks (GVW ratings of 16,001 to 19,500 pounds), with several new entries within the past year, were up 205% compared with September 1997 and 134% compared with the first nine months. Customers bought 2,582 Class 5 trucks during the month and 17,930 for the first three quarters of the year.

Class 6 trucks (GVW ratings of 19,501 to 26,000 pounds) also posted a triple-digit gain-up 115% from September 1997. The 3,013 Class 6 trucks sold in September brought year-to-date sales to 22,244 units, up 63% from the first nine months of 1997.

Class 7 trucks (GVW ratings of 26,001 to 33,000 pounds) were off 7% for the month and slipped 3% for the year. Dealers sold 9,097 Class 7 trucks during September and 83,308 for the first nine months of 1998.

Class 8 trucks (GVW ratings above 33,000 pounds) continued strong, up 20% for the month and 19% for the first nine months of the year. Customers bought 18,332 Class 8 trucks in September and 151,796 for the year.

In other areas: * Intermodal shipments held steady during the first 42 weeks of 1998, according to figures compiled by the Association of American Railroads. The rails carried 2,710,866 piggyback trailers for the period, down 3.3% from a year earlier. Container traffic continued to increase-up 3.0%. Overall intermodal traffic was up 0.5%.

* Industrial production declined 0.3% in September, according to the Federal Reserve. At 128.7% of its 1992 average, industrial production in September was 2.4% higher than it was a year earlier.

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