Trailer Shipments Set Another Record

SHIPMENTS of complete truck trailers continued at a record pace in February, according to preliminary figures compiled by the U S Bureau of Census.

The industry turned out an estimated 26,275 complete trailers during the month, the best February ever recorded. The performance was 8% better than January, up 43% from February 1997, and 15% more than the previous record for February set in 1995. It also was close to being the most productive month ever, rivaling the 28,957 complete trailers shipped during March 1995.

Dry-freight vans had the biggest numerical gain (6,403 more than February 1997) and had a strong percentage of increase-55% from a year earlier. However, some of the more specialized trailers had stronger percentages of increase. The 57 asphalt tank trailers shipped in February were 256% more than year-earlier levels. Pole and logging trailers more than doubled, up 108% when compared with February 1997.

The incomplete segment of the market, however, was not as strong. Manufacturers shipped an estimated 1,314 containers and container chassis in February, down 1% from January and 21% off from February 1997. The industry also shipped an estimated 250 dollies and converter gear, up 1% from the previous month and gaining 12% when compared with February 1997.

For the first two months of 1998, manufacturers shipped 50,630 complete trailers-the fastest start in history. While obviously very early in the year, it is a pace that would produce more than 300,000 trailers if continued through December.

Truck Sales Strengthen Led by strong increases in the commercial truck segment, retail truck sales were up 5% from February 1997, according to figures published by the American Automobile Manufacturers Association.

Class 1 trucks (GVW ratings of 6,000 pounds or less), a growth segment in recent years, treaded water in February. The 340,463 Class 1 trucks sold during the month were a fraction of a percent higher than year-earlier levels. The same was true when viewed on a year-to-date basis.

Class 2 trucks (GVW ratings of 6,001 to 10,000 pounds) were up 14% from February 1997. Through the first two months of 1998, sales were 11% higher than those of the corresponding period of 1997.

Class 3 trucks (GVW ratings of 10,001 to 14,000 pounds) grew 28% for the month and also for the year. Dealers sold 5,827 Class 3 trucks in February and 10,898 for the first two months of the year.

Class 4 trucks (GVW ratings of 14,001 to 16,000 pounds) were the only class that did not post gains in February. Another 2,792 Class 4 trucks went into the market in February, down 27% for the month and for the year.

Class 6 trucks (GVW ratings of 19,501 to 26,000 pounds) were up 22% for the month and 16% year-to-date. Dealers sold 1,893 and 3,424 Class 6 trucks for February and year-to-date respectively.

Class 7 trucks (GVW ratings of 26,001 to 33,000 pounds) had an 11% sales increase for the month and 6% growth for January and February. The market purchased 8,539 Class trucks in February and 16,404 for the first two months of the year.

Class 8 trucks (GVW ratings above 33,000 pounds) were up 17% in February and 16% for the year. Dealers sold 14,489 Class 8 trucks for the month, bringing the two-month total to 27,561 vehicles sold. In other areas:

Intermodal shipments for the first 13 weeks of 1998 edged up 1.9% compared to the corresponding period last year, according to figures compiled by the Association of American Railroads. The growth was the result of an increase in container shipments, offsetting a decline in piggyback trailer volume. The rails carried 834,611 trailers during the period, down 0.5%. The 1,314,807 containers shipped were 3.5% more than were transported during the first 13 weeks of 1997.

Industrial production was unchanged in February following a revised 0.1% rise in January, according to the Federal Reserve. At 128.1% of its 1992 average, total industrial production in February was 4.9% higher than in February 1997.

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