Final net trailer orders sank in May to 9,500 units, 42% below April, FTR reports. Year-over-year comparisons were still up 112% versus COVID-impacted 2020 order activity. Van orders were “very soft” in May but vocational trailers remain “sturdy” as the industrial sector of the economy picks up steam. Trailer orders for the past twelve months total 368,000.
May’s weak order activity reflects OEM’s that are essentially booked for the year and reluctant to quote trailers for 2022 delivery due to a spike in commodity prices and other costs, according to the FTR analysis. In addition, some fleets are adjusting their requirements due to extended lead times.
“The market is in a strange place right now in that the bucket for 2021 orders is almost full, but the bucket in 2022 is essentially empty,” Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles, said. “We expect abnormally low activity until the 2022 order boards are opened. At that point, orders should shoot back up to near-record levels.
“Freight growth remains robust. Fleets continue to need more trailers than can be produced in the short-term. The supply chain situation improved some in May, but the industry is still scrambling to catch up. The environment is expected to improve in the second half of the year but will still impact the industry well into 2022.”