Trailer shipments continue to grow

SHIPMENTS of complete truck trailers increased 14% in the first quarter, according to the Economic Planning Associates quarterly survey of trailer manufacturers.

EPA Inc estimates that the industry shipped 59,300 complete trailers during the first three months of 2005, compared with 52,025 shipped during the corresponding period in 2004.

First-quarter trailer shipments topped the previous quarter by 3%.

The gains were particularly impressive because they come on top of a strong year in 2004 in which trailer shipments increased 29% over the previous year, according to EPA Inc. It was a particularly productive three months for platform trailer manufacturers. Plants turned out an estimated 6,300 platforms during the first quarter, up 43% from the first three months of 2004.

Van shipments were flat relative to the previous quarter, but they were up 11% from the first quarter of 2004.

“As we anticipated in our last report, shipments continued to hold at high levels in the first quarter of this year,” said Peter Toja, president of EPA Inc. “Based on our analyses of the economy in general, the financial environment, and our outlooks for major customer markets, we expect further modest gains in quarterly trailer shipments through 2005 and into 2006. The only dampener in our near term outlook is the escalation in 2005 equipment prices due to the rising costs of new materials and components.”

Toja said that expanding markets will fuel a certain portion of the anticipated growth in shipments, while a rapidly aging fleet prompts replacement pressure in the quarters ahead.

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