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Trailer Shipments Up, Down in August

TRAILER shipments had their ups and downs in August, according to preliminary figures published by the US Bureau of Census.

After slipping to a three-year low in July, shipments recovered somewhat in August. The industry shipped 20,375 complete trailers for the month, up 8% from July's trough. Despite the increase, shipments in August were off 17% from a year earlier. The 24,589 complete trailers shipped during August 1999, however, represent the best August on record.

One of the interesting points of the preliminary report for August was the fact that dry-freight vans moved counter to the industry as a whole. Because dry-freight vans are the largest trailer type in the industry, their changes tend to drive the overall direction of the industry. But in August, dry-freight vans were up 13% from August 1999. Declines in the shipments of other types of vans, however, led to an overall decrease of 14%. Insulated vans were cut almost in half - falling 47% from August 1999. Livestock vans dropped 76%, and open tops were off 22%.

Other types of trailers also offset the increase in dry-freight vans. For example, tank trailers were off 22% from a year ago. Platforms were down 17%, and dump trailers dropped 39%.

Through the first eight months of 2000, manufacturers shipped an estimated 174,914 complete trailers, down 13% from the corresponding period of 1999. In addition, the industry shipped an estimated 17,777 containers and container chassis (down 12%), and 2,267 dollies and converter gear, a 14% increase.

Truck Sales Mixed Truck sales showed signs of softening, despite continued growth of light-duty vehicles, according to figures compiled by Ward's Communications.

Class 1 trucks (GVW ratings of 6,000 pounds or less) were up 13% from August 1999 and had a 6% sales increase when compared with the first eight months of 1999. Sales for August and year to date were 452,838 and 3,554,311, respectively.

Class 2 trucks (GVW ratings of 6,001 to 10,000 pounds) slipped 3% for the month but remained 5% ahead of last year's pace. Dealers sold 196,946 Class 2 trucks in August and 1,649,514 for the first eight months of 2000.

Class 3 trucks (GVW ratings of 10,001 to 14,000 pounds) were 7% more than the 8,744 Class 3 trucks sold in August 1999. The 80,488 sold during the first eight months of the year were unchanged from a year ago.

Class 4 trucks (GVW ratings of 14,001 to 16,000 pounds) were off 10% from August 1999 and slipped 3% for the year. Customers bought 3,636 Class 4 trucks during the month and 32,987 year to date.

Class 5 trucks (GVW ratings of 16,001 to 19,500 pounds) edged up 6% in August (2,307 sold). The 20,134 Class 5 trucks sold during the first eight months were off 3% from a year earlier.

Class 6 trucks (GVW ratings of 19,501 to 26,000 pounds) just had a bad month - off 9% from August 1999. Sales for the year were still strong - up 30%. Dealers sold 4,196 Class 6 trucks during the month and 39,064 year to date.

Class 7 trucks (GVW ratings of 26,001 to 33,000 pounds) were up 8% from August 1999 but slipped 2% on a year-to-date basis. Sales totaled 12,096 for August and 88,275 for the first eight months of 2000.

Class 8 trucks (GVW ratings above 33,000 pounds) were down 23% from August and 9% for the first eight months of the year. Customers bought 16,986 Class 8 trucks during August and 156,289 for the year.


- Intermodal shipments continued edging up, according to figures compiled by the Association of American Railroads. For the first 40 weeks of 2000, major US railroads transported 2,218,342 piggyback trailers (down 10%) and 4,837,887 containers. Overall intermodal traffic increased 3%.

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