Trailer orders for December retreated to 26,500 units, according to FTR Intel, down 18% month-over-month and -42% year-over-year. Trailer orders for 2021 totaled 249,000 units.
“The trailer market has settled into a pattern similar to Class 8 trucks,” Don Ake, VP of commercial vehicles at FTR, commented. “Orders have now averaged 26,000 units for the past four months, only a few thousand more than monthly production. That means backlogs have only gone up 6% despite there being tremendous demand for new trailers. You won’t see the order numbers consistently rise until there are ample parts to support significantly higher production.”
OEMs continue to manage backlogs carefully, as the supply chain disruptions persist, FTR reported. Order volume was very close to the average of the previous three months. Liquid tank trailer orders were sturdy. OEMs are booking orders a batch at a time, as they estimate how many trailers they can build in future months based on parts and component availability. Fleets anticipate needing large numbers of trailers in the coming months, but OEMs are reluctant to enter all the commitments into the backlog under current conditions.
“It appears that a labor shortage at domestic suppliers is now the number one constraint,” Ake continued. “The flow of commodity materials has improved and even imported parts deliveries have increased. The employment level at the OEMs is also a significant issue. At least one OEM is offering $1,000 sign-on bonuses for all factory workers. It is anticipated that trailer build will increase steadily once the labor constraints loosen up.”