Demand for truck trailers may fluctuate month to month, but at the end of this year and next, expect total trailer production to be just a little higher than it was in 2012.
Speaking at his company’s annual seminar this week in Indianapolis, FTR President Eric Starks believes trailer orders will surge in November and December and will remain strong through February. This will help offset the decline experienced this summer.
“Orders need to pick up toward the mid-teens over the next few months to hit our fourth quarter forecast,” Starks said. “July order activity was below 13,000.”
He believes trailer manufacturers could close out 2014 in good shape.
“If fleets can push rates higher in the first half of 2014, there should be upside pressure to the second half of the year,” he said.
FTR counted 232,000 truck trailers produced in the United States last year. The company believes production will reach 236,000 trailers in 2013. The forecast for 2014 calls for 237,000 trailers to be produced. That number is expected to edge down to 210,000 in 2015.
The forecast is influenced by a variety of factors:
• The economy is growing slowly.
• Fleets are improving their utilization of equipment.
• Federal regulations are expected to adversely affect fleet efficiency, increasing the need for more equipment.
• Freight will increase only slightly in the coming months.
• Fleets will remain cautious when making purchasing decisions.
• The greatest risk for production to fall short of expectations will be in the last quarter of this year and the first quarter of 2014.