Trailer Shipments Steady in January

Trailer manufacturers remained flat in January following a mild decline that began the fourth quarter of 1999, according to preliminary reports published by the US Bureau of Census.

Trailer shipments dropped from 23,589 in September to 20,834 in October and have remained relatively unchanged since then. What little movement there has been, however, has been positive, Census figures indicate. Shipments crept up to 21,441 in November-virtually identical to the revised estimates for December (21,484 instead of the preliminary estimates of 19,820 for the month).

The preliminary report for January is more of the same. Census estimates that the industry shipped 21,510 complete trailers during January, slightly more than December's output but 6% below the level from January 1999.

Among the different trailer types, insulated vans continued to outpace the industry in general-up 28%. Platforms and dumps also had a strong month, up 20% and 25%, respectively, from January 1999.

In addition to the 21,510 complete trailers, the industry turned out an estimated 998 containers and container chassis (down 42% from January 1999) and 71 dollies and converter gear (off 73%).

Truck Sales Increase 7% Retail truck sales took a tumble relative to the previous month, but they remained 7% ahead of the January 1999 performance, according to figures compiled by Ward's Communications.

Class 1 trucks (GVW ratings of 6,000 pounds or less) were up 7% compared with year-earlier levels. Dealers sold 350,659 Class 1 trucks during the month, compared with 327,440 sold during January 1999.

Class 2 trucks (GVW ratings of 6,001 to 10,000 pounds) had an 8% sales increase in January. Truck customers bought 165,755 Class 2 trucks during the month.

Class 3 trucks (GVW ratings of 10,001 to 14,000 pounds) took a cue from the trailer market, edging up only slightly in January. The 7,966 Class 3 trucks sold during the month were 1% more than the 7,885 sold during the corresponding month of 1999.

Class 4 trucks (GVW ratings of 14,001 to 16,000 pounds) showed a similar pattern. Dealers sold 2,967 Class 4 trucks during January, up 1.6% from the 2,921 sold during January 1999.

Class 5 trucks (GVW ratings of 16,001 to 19,500 pounds) were the lone exception to sales increases. Only 1,731 Class 5 trucks were sold in January, down 22% from the 2,229 sold a year earlier.

Class 6 trucks (GVW ratings of 19,501 to 26,000 pounds) had the largest percentage of increase among the eight GVW classes. Sales for the month totaled 4,034 units, up 61% from the 2,501 Class 6 trucks sold during the first month of 1999.

Class 7 trucks (GVW ratings of 26,001 to 33,000 pounds) were up in January, but by less than half of one percent. Customers bought 9,120 Class 7 trucks during the month, 39 more than in January 1999.

Class 8 trucks (GVW ratings above 33,000 pounds) edged up 2%. Dealers sold 16,539 Class 8 trucks during January, compared with 16,221 a year earlier.

In other areas: * Intermodal shipments were up 2.6% during the first seven weeks of 2000, according to figures compiled by the Association of American Railroads. As has been the case recently, however, the trend seems to be toward the use of containers and away from piggyback trailers. The 393,874 trailers shipped during the first seven weeks of 2000 were 9.6% below the corresponding period of 1999. Conversely, the 800,557 containers shipped during the period were 10% more than were shipped a year earlier.

* Industrial production increased 1% in January after advances of 0.3% in November and 0.4% in December. At 141.5% of its 1992 average, industrial production in January was 5.5% higher than in January 1999.

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