While order activity has been steady in recent months, trailer manufacturers have continued trim backlogs, according to ACT Research, Columbus IN.
Backlogs fell again in September, the seventh consecutive month in which the build rate exceeded incoming orders. Despite the decline, however, backlogs remained above their year-ago level. “Historically, September represents the end of the annual soft order period that typically begins in May,” says ACT Research’s Kenny Vieth. “That orders were below the rate of build in September was not unexpected nor out of the ordinary. That said, if the industry is going to maintain current build rates into 2006, stronger orders above the rate of build will be required to replenish depleted backlogs.” Vieth points out that the economy experienced a tough third quarter, as petroleum prices rose sharply in July and August as hurricanes caused massive destruction along the Gulf Coast in September.
“While consumer confidence is beaten down at present, a strong influx of public and private rebuilding dollars for the Gulf will in large part offset the negative effect of higher energy costs,” Vieth says. “We are currently projecting that U S trailer shipments in 2005 will be around 253,000 units, with containers, chassis and dollies adding another 36,000 units.”
Trailer shipments totaled 60,016 during the third quarter, up 6% from the corresponding period of 2004. Of those, 43,365 were van trailers, up 4% from the third quarter of 2004. Platform trailers turned in the strongest performance of the quarter, up 17.5%. All remaining trailers, including tanks and dumps, were up almost 10%. In all, trailer shipments were up 6% when compared with the third quarter of 2004.
Through the first three quarters of 2005, manufacturers shipped an estimated 191,242 complete trailers. The industry also produced 24,829 containers and container chassis during the first nine months of 2005.