Trailer Shipments Cool in November

WHAT do you mean, "Trailer shipments cool in November?"

Preliminary figures indicate that the trailer manufacturers shipped more trailers-29,383-than they did during March 1995, the month that is officially the most productive on record. Yet shipments declined 6% from the 31,228 complete trailers that plants turned out in October.

Such seeming contradictions simply highlight how much trailer shipments have boomed, particularly in recent months. All monthly figures reported for 1998 are still preliminary figures subject to revision. Yet according to these figures, the industry has not shipped less than 28,957 complete trailers (the best official month on record) since July. It also was the first time since July that monthly shipments "dipped" below the 30,000 mark.

With 11 of these preliminary totals already reported by the U S Bureau of Census, the industry is poised to post its best year in history-even if the totals are revised downward fairly sharply. Through November, trailer manufacturers shipped an estimated 314,668 complete trailers. If the industry turned out its 1998 monthly average of 28,606 trailers in December, the total for the year would exceed 340,000.

While down from October's totals, manufacturers still posted double-digit gains from the November 1997 level. However, some types of trailers finished below year-earlier shipments. These included refrigerated vans, down 15%, livestock vans, off 76%; open-top vans, down 44%; and platforms, down 12%.

Incomplete products were mixed. Containers and container chassis declined 49% from the 3,774 units shipped in November 1997. Dollies and converter gear, however, were up 91% with shipments of 256.

Truck Sales Strong Retail truck sales were approaching 7 million for all of 1998, according to figures compiled by Wards Communications, part of the same company that publishes Trailer/Body Builders. Wards began compiling retail truck sales after the American Automobile Manufacturers Association ceased operations.

Class 1 trucks (GVW ratings of 6,000 pounds or less) slipped 5% compared with November 1997. However, the 4,224,697 Class 1 trucks sold during the first 11 months of 1998 were 2% more than the comparable period of 1997.

Class 2 trucks (GVW ratings of 6,001 to 10,000 pounds) were up 18% for the month and 19% for the year. Dealers sold 178,513 Class 2 trucks during November and 1,552,906 for the first 11 months of the year.

Class 3 trucks (GVW ratings of 10,001 to 14,000 pounds) were up sharply. Dealers sold 8,756 Class 3 trucks during November, up 126% from a year earlier. Year-to-date sales of 92,499 were 91% more than were sold during the first 11 months of 1997.

Class 4 trucks (GVW ratings of 14,001 to 16,000 pounds) were off 37% for the month and 23% for the year. Sales of Class 4 trucks were 2,980 and 39,358 for the month and year-to-date, respectively.

Class 6 trucks (GVW ratings of 19,501 to 26,000 pounds) posted strong gains-123% for November and 73% for the first 11 months of 1998.

Class 7 trucks (GVW ratings of 26,001 to 33,000 pounds) topped last November's sales by 12% but were off 2% for the year. Dealers sold 8,996 Class 7 trucks in November and 103,050 for the first 11 months.

Class 8 trucks (GVW ratings above 33,000 pounds) were up 32% for the month and 18% year to date. Customers bought 18,117 Class 8 trucks in November and 188,915 for the first 11 months of the year.

In other areas: * Intermodal shipments set records in 1998, according to figures compiled by the Association of American Railroads. Intermodal volume climbed to 8,772,663 containers and trailers, up 0.9% from 1997.

* Industrial production declined 0.3% in November, according to the Federal Reserve. At 131.8% of its 1992 average, industrial production in November was 1.5% higher than it was in November 1997.

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