Trailer Shipments Set Record in August

TRAILER MANUFACTURERS enjoyed their best August in history, according to preliminary figures published by the Bureau of Census.

Manufacturers shipped 24,763 complete trailers during August, making it the third-most productive month on record. Only March 1995 (with 28,957 trailers) and May 1995 (with 24,848 shipped) surpassed the number of trailers that the industry turned out during August.

As was the case during the record year of 1995, dry-freight van trailers were responsible for the surge. The 24,763 complete trailers shipped during August were 46% more than the industry produced in August 1996. Dry freight vans jumped 89% during the same period. Subtract dry freight vans from that total, however, and the remaining shipments (including other types of van trailers) are down 1% from August 1996. Tanks were down 10% for the month, lowbeds slipped one percentage point, and dump trailers were off 13%. Platform trailers, however, turned in a strong performance with a 26% increase from year-earlier levels.

Through the first eight months of 1997, manufacturers shipped an estimated 170,944 complete trailers. Should this pace hold up, manufacturers would ship 256,416 complete trailers in 1997. This would not be enough to top the 279,144 complete trailers shipped in 1995, but the projected total would exceed all other years. A word of caution, however: Monthly totals are simply preliminary figures. Last year's final figures were 10% below the preliminary totals.

Truck Sales Steady Retail truck sales edged up 2% from August 1996, according to figures compiled by the American Automobile Manufacturers Association. Dealers sold 548,252 trucks during the month, compared with 539,015 a year earlier.

Class 1 trucks (GVW ratings of 6,000 pounds or less), with 385,238 units sold, were unchanged for the month. Sales were up 3% on the year.

Class 2 trucks (GVW ratings of 6,001 to 10,000 pounds) were up 8% for August but were off 3% year to date. The market bought 128,404 Class 2 trucks in August and 1,108,167 for the first eight months of 1997.

Class 3 trucks (GVW ratings of 10,001 to 14,000 pounds) slipped 3% in August but were up 21% for the year. Dealers sold 3,495 Class 3 trucks during the month and 37,752 for the year.

Class 4 trucks (GVW ratings of 14,001 to 16,000 pounds) slipped 2% for the month and were down 10% for the first eight months of 1997. Sales for the month and year were 4,656 and 37,804 Class 4 trucks, respectively.

Class 6 trucks (GVW ratings of 19,501 to 26,000 pounds) were down 11% in August and 10% for the year. Dealers sold 1,577 Class 6 trucks for the month and 12,223 for the first eight months of 1997.

Class 7 trucks (GVW ratings of 26,001 to 33,000 pounds) turned in a strong performance-up 12% for the month and 4% for the year. The 10,481 Class 7 trucks sold in August resulted in total sales of 76,581 units for the first eight months of 1997.

Class 8 trucks (GVW ratings above 33,000 pounds) slipped 2% for the month and 3% year to date. Dealers sold 13,527 Class 8 trucks in August and 112,819 for the year.

In other areas: * Intermodal shipments continued to climb. Railroads carried 2,554,248 trailers and 3,920,191 containers during the first 39 weeks of 1997, according to figures compiled by the Association of American Railroads. Trailer traffic was up 5.2% compared with the corresponding period of 1996, and container shipments increased 9.7%. Total intermodal traffic on U S rails increased 7.9% compared with the first 39 weeks of 1996.

* Industrial production increased 0.7% in August, with widespread gains in manufacturing, according to the Federal Reserve. At 121.3% of its 1992 average, industrial production in August was 4.7% higher than in August 1996.

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