FTR's January trailer orders

January trailers orders ‘basically unchanged’ from December

Feb. 13, 2020
FTR says trade, tariff uncertainty has abated, but coronavirus, presidential election keeping equipment buyers cautious

FTR reports that preliminary trailer orders for January were basically unchanged from December at 16,600 units.

This is the lowest January order activity since 2011, FTR added. Trailer orders now total 194,000 units for the last 12 months.

Orders remained in a narrow track for the third consecutive month, closely following the trend in the Class 8 market that reflects cautious equipment buying by fleets. Large fleets, especially leasing fleets, are not ordering many vans. Additionally, the flatbed market remains weak due to the sluggishness in the manufacturing sector of the economy.

“Much of the uncertainty that was present in the economy has been abated,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “Two trade deals have been signed, some tariffs have been softened, the manufacturing outlook has improved, and the situation in the Middle East has calmed. However, fears about the coronavirus have now caused the equipment markets to pause and buyers to remain cautious.

“Business investment, both inside and outside the transportation industry, will continue to tighten the closer we get to the presidential election. Fleets are confident to replace older trailers, but under the current low-growth freight environment, there is no motivation to expand operations.

“Orders are expected to continue to track in this range for a while. OEMs continue to adjust their line rates to the new order environment. Backlogs will continue to fall but will be much more front-loaded, with few orders going out more than six months.” 

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