Census Figures Show Record Year

TRAILER MANUFACTURERS posted the industry's best year ever in 1999, according to revised figures compiled by the U S Bureau of Census.

Based upon the Bureau's report on trailer manufacturing for 1999, the industry shipped 300,463 complete trailers for the year, well ahead of the 279,144 trailers shipped during 1995, the previous record. The Truck Trailers Summary 1999 report that the Census Bureau has published also shows that shipments last year were substantially higher than the preliminary monthly estimates.

Trailer manufacturers set the record by shipping just over 25,000 trailers per month. Volume month-to-month was extremely consistent, with only a 14% difference between the best month of the year and the month with the lowest volume of trailer shipments. What minor fluctuations occurred during the year were concentrated in the last three months. The 26,892 complete trailers shipped during October were the highest monthly total for 1999, while the low point came in December when the industry shipped 23,633 trailers.

Last year was good for just about every type of van trailer, but surprisingly mixed for everyone else. Overall the industry was up 10% from 1998. Manufacturers of insulated trailers had a particularly strong year - up 47%. Among dry-freight vans, some interesting trends appeared regarding the materials being used. The industry produced 4,817 steel vans during the year, up 146% from 1998. Conversely, the number of dry-freight vans built with fiberglass-reinforced plywood were almost in free-fall, dropping 79% during the year. Doubles trailers also missed out on the prosperity, falling 16% at a time when overall dry-freight vans were up 2%.

Outside of the van market, it was a relatively stable year. A 23% increase in gasoline and other flammable tanks overcame flat shipments for chemical and acid trailers and a down year for all other types of tanks. It was enough to nudge total tank shipments to a 7% increase.

Dump trailer manufacturers and pole and logging trailers posted double-digit declines. The 12,912 dump trailers shipped in 1999 were 12% below year-earlier levels. Pole and logging trailer shipments slipped to 1,480, a 16% decline.

Prices appeared to be remarkably stable in a period of high demand. Dividing the value of each type of trailer by the number shipped produces an average figure for each trailer shipped - at least a rough indication of which way trailer prices are going. Except for lowbeds, changes in the average value of trailers generally did not exceed the inflation rate.

Freightliner Has New Concept in Used Trucks Freightliner has unveiled a new concept in pre-owned vehicles - factory-refurbished pre-owned trucks. These heavy-duty trucks feature new components and appearance enhancements, while offering customers choices for customizing the truck. The trucks are prepared by Freightliner technicians at a dedicated used-truck refurbishing facility in Tooele UT.

Factory-refurbished pre-owned trucks are available at SelecTrucks Centers and at participating Freightliner dealers.

All refurbished trucks feature this new equipment: tires, belts and coolant hoses, batteries, rear brakes (drums and shoes), remanufactured starter, remanufactured alternator, and powertrain fluids and filters.

Optional features include a new remanufactured 13-speed overdrive transmission, new clutch, new air slide fifthwheel, or new engine brake. Freightliner also will electronically re-rate the engine up to maximum allowable drivetrain horsepower.

All factory-refurbished pre-owned trucks have new seat covers, new back and side panels, new ceiling panels, new sleeper curtains, and new carpets and floor mats - plus, all cabinets are repainted.

High-end units receive detailing: the cab is polished to its original luster; chassis repainted; engine compartment cleaned; and all exposed aluminum polished. Trucks get a new grille and new chrome exhaust components.

Appearance-enhancing options consist of: Imron 5000 cab paint, new vinyl graphics, new side-of-cab mounted dual exhaust, new aluminum wheels, new grille surround, new stainless-clad aluminum bumper, and new custom steering wheel.

Each refurbished truck receives a 150-point inspection, is federal DOT-certified, and is road-tested with a loaded trailer.

All factory-refurbished pre-owned trucks feature a 36-month/ 250,000-mile powertrain warranty on major components and front-to-back, 12-month/100,000-mile coverage on virtually all drivetrain components. All warranties are serviced by the Freightliner dealer network.

The Tooele facility also will reconfigure used trucks to cab types popular in the current market. For example, Tooele soon will begin converting Freightliner FLD 120 tractors with 48-inch Flat Top SleeperCabs into FLD Day Cabs. This is achieved by removing the integral sleeper portion of the cab and installing a Day Cab back skin and roof skin, as well as a new exhaust package. These trucks also will be refurbished with new components and interior and exterior features.

Freightliner intends to explore reconfiguration projects including shortening wheelbases or converting Raised Roof SleeperCabs to Mid-Roof SleeperCabs.

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