Trailer shipments grow during third quarter

Shipments of complete truck trailers continued to top year-earlier levels, according to the third quarter survey of trailer manufacturers conducted by Economic Planning Associates, Smithtown, New York.

Third quarter trailer shipments were up 11% when compared with the third quarter of 2005, according to the results of the survey — despite slipping 2.4% from the second quarter.

The third-quarter performance was slightly better than what the industry has averaged through the first nine months of 2006. Through September, manufacturers shipped 196,100 trailers, 8.0% above the comparable period of 2005.

Among vans, third quarter shipments totaled 36,500, up 14% from the previous year. Insulated vans had finished 8% ahead of their third-quarter 2005 levels.

Among the remaining types of trailers, virtually all categories posted year-over-year gains. Platforms finished 18% ahead of the third quarter of 2005. Tanks were up 25%, and dumps moved up 9%. Through the first nine months of 2006, non-vans were up 18% ahead of the last year's pace.

“The continued strength in trailer demand is impressive in light of our slowing economy, sharply higher fuel costs earlier this year, the 17 consecutive rate hikes by the Fed from June 2004 through August 2006, and constraints on driver availability and retention,” said Peter Toja, president of EPA Inc. “Nonetheless, higher interest rates and a reticent consumer are slowing economic activity even as fuel prices recede. We view the next few quarters with cautious optimism.”

In the construction sector, housing demand has eased, leading to what EPA Inc describes as slower expansion in purchases of household goods.

“However, public, commercial, and industrial projects are holding up,” Toja said. “At the same time, efforts to rebuild the Gulf Coast will add some support to construction activities.”

EPA Inc expects manufacturing activities to slow somewhat in response to a dampening in consumer outlays, offsetting continued growth in business outlays and foreign demand for U S exports.

“Based on these observations, we look for trailer shipments to flatten next year after a robust advance in 2006,” Toja said.

Complete details of chassis will be provided in the November edition of the company's quarterly truck and trailer report that it sends to its clients.

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