Trailer shipments hit 32-year low in 2009

Truck trailer shipments dropped to levels not seen since 1975, according to figures compiled by ACT Research Company of Columbus, Indiana.

Manufacturers in the United States shipped 80,014 complete trailers for the year, down 44% from the 142,284 that the industry shipped in 2008. And had it not been for a strong refrigerated trailer market spurred on in part by California Air Resources Board regulations, the total could have been the lowest since 1963, according to Kenny Vieth, partner and senior analyst for ACT Research.

As the year was ending, however, there were strong signs that the industry was turning around. Manufacturers had their best month of the year in December, shipping 8,296 commercial trailers. December net orders for commercial trailers were up 140% from depressed levels in December 2008, but slightly below the 2009 monthly average.

In the latest release of State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers, ACT indicated that almost every category of trailer factory shipments posted the lowest levels in 30 to 50 years, with only the reefer van sector holding up relatively well.

“Reaching a 32-year low required not only the worst economic downturn in generations, but also the impact of trailer tracking technology on trailer productivity and utilization,” said Kenny Vieth, partner and senior analyst with ACT Research. “On a more positive note, inventories reached a new four-year low, a prerequisite for improvement in production rates.”

More information on ACT Research can be found at http://www.actresearch.net.

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