TRAILER manufacturers began 1998 with their best January on record, according to preliminary figures published by the U S Bureau of Census.
The industry shipped an estimated 24,999 complete trailers for the month, surpassing the previous record set in January 1995. In their most productive year ever, manufacturers began 1995 by shipping 22,564 complete trailers.
Although down slightly from December, the industry continued its record-setting pace. With its best January ever, the industry has set similar records (highest level for that particular month) every month since July.
Total shipments of compete trailers were up 39% from January 1997. Vans were up most sharply, but it also was a good month for tanks, platforms, and lowbeds. Specifically:
Dry freight vans were up 54% from January 1997. Manufacturers shipped 17,070 for the month, down slightly from December.
Tank trailers topped last January's shipments by 38%. Shipments edged up 4% from the previous month.
Platform trailers, with shipments of 1,835, were up 14% from January 1997.
Lowbeds (1,068 trailers shipped) increased 21% when compared with January 1998. Shipments also were 7% higher than December.
Gains were not universal, however. The 742 dump trailers shipped during January were 10% below year-earlier levels. Pole and logging trailers were down 17%, and automobile transporters declined 14%.
In addition to the 24,999 complete trailers shipped in January, the industry also turned out 1,333 containers and container chassis, down 18% from a year earlier. Dollies and converter gear, with 249 units shipped in January, were up 7% compared with January 1997.
Truck Sales Up Truck dealers had another up month, selling 479,067 trucks during January, a 3% increase from the start of 1997.
According to figures compiled by the American Automobile Manufacturers Association:
Class 1 trucks (GVW ratings of 6,000 pounds or less) were virtually unchanged in January. The 315,982 trucks sold in January were less than 1% more than January 1997.
Class 2 trucks (GVW ratings of 6,001 to 10,000 pounds) had a 9% increase compared with January 1997. Dealers sold 131,272 Class 2 trucks for the month.
Class 3 trucks (GVW ratings of 10,001 to 14,000 pounds) soared 27% during January. Customers bought 5,021 Class 3 trucks during the month.
Class 4 trucks (GVW ratings of 14,001 to 16,000 pounds) moved equally as far, but in the opposite direction. The 2,768 Class 4 trucks sold during January were 27% below year-earlier levels.
Class 6 trucks (GVW ratings of 19,501 to 26,000 pounds) started the year up 10% from the corresponding period of 1997. Dealers sold 1,531 Class 6 trucks for the month.
Class 7 trucks (GVW ratings of 26,001 to 33,000 pounds) edged up 1% in January. Customers bought 7,865 Class 7 during the first month of 1998.
Class 8 trucks (GVW ratings above 33,000 pounds) were sold at a fast pace in January. The 13,072 Class 8 trucks sold during the month were 15% than were sold during the corresponding period of 1997.
In other areas:
Intermodal shipments were up 1% for the first eight weeks of 1998, according to the Association of American Railroads. The increase was the result of a 2.1% increase in container traffic. The number of piggyback trailers carried during the first eight weeks of 1998 slipped 0.8%.
Industrial production was unchanged in January. The Federal Reserve reported that the warmer-than-average weather during the month led to a 4% decline in the output of utilities. Also slowing down industrial production was a decline in motor vehicle production. At 127.9% of its 1992 average, total industrial production in January was 5.5% higher than it was in January 1999.