Trailer shipments rebound in second quarter

Aug. 1, 2002
1st qtr 2002 2nd qtr 2002 Change (%) Dry freight 12,000 16,000 33% Insulated 4,150 4,300 4% Drop frame 350 750 114% All other vans 1,450 1,450 0% Total
1st qtr 2002 2nd qtr 2002 Change (%) Dry freight 12,000 16,000 33% Insulated 4,150 4,300 4% Drop frame 350 750 114% All other vans 1,450 1,450 0% Total vans 17,950 22,500 25% Platform 2,300 2,900 26% Tank 1,000 1,000 0% Lowbed 2,150 2,300 7% Dump 1,300 1,750 35% Bulk 480 450 -6% All other 1,050 1,050 0% Total non-vans 8,280 9,450 14% Total trailers 26,230 31,950 22% Containers 1,775 2,215 25% Container chassis 1,450 660 -55% Total containers, chassis 3,225 2,875 -11%

AS ANTICIPATED, trailer shipments rebounded in the second quarter, according to Economic Planning Associates, Smithtown, New York.

The strongest growth in the second quarter came from dry-freight vans, which increased from 12,000 units in the first quarter to 16,000 in the second.

Leading the change in the non-van sector were dump and platform trailers, both popular in the construction market. Lowbed and bulk commodity trailers both posted modest advances, while tank trailer shipments were flat.

In spite of the recent rebound, year-over-year comparisons still remain weak, the company said. With the exception of dump trailers, all major trailer segments in the second quarter were running below the similar period of 2001.

“The good news is that the year-over-year declines moderated for the second consecutive quarter, indicating that we are approaching the end of the downward phase of the current trailer cycle,” says Peter Toja, president. “From this point on, we anticipate further, albeit modest, improvements in trailer shipments. With consumer spending advancing, housing starts at high levels, construction activities moving up, manufacturing advancing, production of capital equipment reviving, imports on the rise, and exports poised to rebound, both trailer loadings and intermodal traffic will move into higher territories during the remainder of this year and throughout 2003.”

Toja observed that heightened levels of construction in general and housing in particular should awaken demand for equipment such as lowbeds, platforms, and dumps. He also said that interest in tank trailers should improve as a result of increases in chemical production, stable demand for liquid foods and beverages, and growth in shipments of various petroleum products.

“While the criteria for a rebound in trailer shipments are already in place, the road to recovery will be on a slow and cautious pace,” Toja said. “Due to the weak start and the stringent financial environment facing truckers, trailer shipments for all of 2002 are slated to record their third consecutive annual decline before rebounding in 2003. As I discussed at the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association convention, we are anticipating a decline of less than 10% in shipments this year. The latest survey results have not altered that projection.”

Complete details and forecasts for customer market activities and for individual trailer types are contained in the September 2002 edition of the company's quarterly truck trailer report. For more information, call (631) 864-4900.