Trailer shipments continue to climb

Led by double-digit growth in platforms, tank, and bulk trailers, shipments of complete truck trailers continued to grow in the first half of 2006, according to figures compiled by Economic Planning Associates of Smithtown, New York.

Halfway through the year, trailer manufacturers had shipped an estimated 15,700 platform trailers, up 25% from the first six months of 2005. But tank and bulk trailers were growing even faster. Tank trailer manufacturers shipped 5,300 units during the first half of 2006, up 29%. Bulk commodity trailers, with 1,700 units shipped during the first half, were up 36%, according to the EPA Inc quarterly survey.

Demand for drive freight vans has stalled—but at historically high levels. The 67,750 dry freight vans shipped during the first six months of this year were less than 1% more than the industry shipped during the first half of 2005.

“While a slowing economy, sharply higher fuel costs, constraints on driver availability and retention, and higher interest rates are dampening demand for vans, shipments of non-vans continue to advance,” says Peter Toja, president of EPA Inc. “While construction activities have slowed, they remain at historically high levels. At the same time, manufacturing activities are advancing and ethanol production is explosive. As a result, demand for platforms, low beds, dumps, and tank trailers continue to advance.”

Overall, shipments of complete truck trailers grew by 7.6% in the second quarter, according to the EPA Inc survey and were shipments were running 6.6% ahead of the second quarter of 2005 while first half shipments of 130.3 thousand trailers were 6.4% above the first half of last year.

EPA Inc was cautiously optimistic, believing that the continued tightening by the Federal Reserve, sharply higher fuel costs, and a reticent consumer will slow economic activity during the second half of this year, putting pressure on what otherwise is a positive longer term outlook for trailer equipment,

Complete details, such as short- and long-term forecasts of customer market activities as well as individual trailer types and container and chassis will be provided in the August edition of the quarterly Truck and Trailer report that EPA Inc sends to its clients.

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