Trailer manufacturers are reporting softer demand for 2024 and “mixed concern” regarding the supply of labor, according to this month’s issue of ACT Research’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailersreport.
Still, during the past six months, trailer OEMs and major suppliers have largely indicated stable business conditions as compared to each prior month. Responses for May, relative to April, were in line with this trend, the research firm reported.
“The seasonally adjusted backlog-to-build ratio dropped 130 basis points m/m, to 6.9 months in April, from March’s 8.2-month level,” said Jennifer McNealy, director–CV market research and publications at ACT Research. “Seasonal adjustment takes dry van BL/BU to 7.1 months and reefers to 8.5, so either way one looks at it, with or without seasonal adjustment, and despite the improvement in build, this essentially commits the industry very close to year-end 2023.”
Continued improvements in supply-chain constraints were reflected in April’s build-per-day increase, the report noted. Statistically, however, month-to-month build was 13% lower due to four fewer build days in April than in March.
Production growth continues its upswing, and ACT Research projections point to a continuation of that trend, McNealy noted.
“OEMs are reporting that their orderboards for 2023 are fully open, with most booked through the end of the year—and we are hearing that some trailer makers are taking orders into 2024,” McNealy said. “But several concerns are weighing on their minds, including the labor market, slowing demand into 2024, Fed hikes, business investment providing continued pressure on carrier profitability, recession risk, material supply availability and cost, and how all these factors are likely to impact dealer confidence.
“While the sky isn’t falling, there certainly are some clouds on the horizon that bear watching as we move through the remainder of 2023 and prepare for 2024.”
ACT Research’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report provides a monthly review of the current US trailer market statistics, as well as trailer OEM build plans and market indicators divided by all major trailer types, including backlogs, build, inventory, new orders, cancellations, net orders, and factory shipments.