Trailer Shipments Still Strong in July

TRAILER SHIPMENTS were as hot as temperatures in July, according to preliminary figures published by the U S Bureau of Census.

The industry turned out an estimated 28,155 complete trailers in July, up 52% from the 18,467 shipped during July 1997. Gains were particularly strong for van manufacturers, but other trailer types also increased, including tank trailers (up 28%), platforms (up 1%), and lowbeds (up 5%). Dump trailers (down 12%), were the only major type of trailer to finish below levels posted in July 1997.

The accuracy of the Census survey may cast a shadow on the preliminary totals, however. In its July report, the Census Bureau significantly lowered its preliminary estimate for June. The bureau initially reported that the industry shipped more than 30,000 complete trailers in June but subsequently reduced the total to 27,854.

For the first seven months of 1998, the Bureau of Census reported a total of 191,772 complete trailers were shipped, up 46% from the corresponding period of 1997. In addition to the shipments of complete trailers, the industry turned out an estimated 11,734 containers and container chassis (down 43% from the corresponding period of 1997) and 2,394 dollies and converter gear, up 127%.

Truck Sales Steady Truck sales were also hot in July-just like last year. Despite the effects of the General Motors strike, truck dealers sold 570,686 trucks in July, according to figures compiled by the American Automobile Manufacturers Association. The total was down 2% from July 1997, but the total for the first seven months of 1998 was up 9% from the corresponding period of 1997.

Class 1 trucks (GVW ratings of 6,000 pounds or less) suffered most-down 25% from the previous month, and off 10% from the July 1997 total. But the 2,793,635 Class 1 trucks sold during the first seven months of 1998 were up 5% from the corresponding period of 1997.

Class 2 trucks (GVW ratings of 6,001 to 10,000 pounds) were off 20% from June but were up 15% from July 1997. The 1,169,786 Class 2 trucks sold through July were up 19% from the first seven months of 1997.

Class 3 trucks (GVW ratings of 10,001 to 14,000 pounds) edged up 3% from June, but the 9,322 Class 3 trucks sold in July were 85% more than the sales made in July 1997. For the first seven months of 1998, dealers sold 55,501 Class 3 trucks, up 62%.

Class 4 trucks (GVW ratings of 14,001 to 16,000 pounds) virtually matched year-earlier sales in July. Customers bought 4,799 trucks during the month, up less than 1% from July 1997. For the first seven months of 1998, sales totaled 26,081 Class 4 trucks, down 21% from last year's pace.

Class 6 trucks (GVW ratings of 19,501 to 26,000 pounds) continued to post double-digit sales gains. The 2,360 Class 6 trucks sold during July were up 75% from a year earlier. With 16,934 Class 6 trucks sold during the first seven months of 1998, sales were up 59% from the corresponding period of 1997.

Class 7 trucks (GVW ratings of 26,001 to 33,000 pounds) were the only GVW class to decline when compared with July 1997 and sales for the year. Customers bought 8,098 Class 7 trucks during July, down 17% from a year earlier. When viewed year-to-date, the 64,031 Class 7 trucks sold during the period were 3% below year-earlier levels.

Class 8 trucks (GVW ratings above 33,000 pounds) were up consistently-15% ahead of July 1997 and 17% more than the sales made during the first seven months of 1997. Of the 116,079 Class 8 trucks sold year-to-date, 17,530 were sold in July.

Intermodal Increases In other areas: Intermodal shipments continued to post modest gains, according to figures compiled by the Association of American Railroads. Overall shipments of containers and piggyback trailers increased 1% through the first 34 weeks (week ending August 29) of 1998. Of the intermodal shipments during the period, 2,158,213 were piggyback trailers, down 3.2%.The remainder-3,538,116 containers-were 3.3% more than the total for the same 34-week period in 1997.

Industrial production declined 0.6% in July after a drop of 1.1% in June, according to the Federal Reserve. Some of the downward revision in June was due to production losses associated with the strikes at key General Motors parts plants. At 126.8% of its 1992 average, the Federal Reserve industrial production index in July was 1.8% higher than it was a year earlier.

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