The good news is September’s preliminary net trailer orders increased sequentially, to 31,300 units, against a very easy August comp and, even better, they were notably higher compared to last September, up 19%, according to ACT Research.
As the opening month of peak order season, seasonal adjustment (SA) lowers September’s SA tally to 28,700 units. Final September results will be available later this month. This preliminary market estimate should be within +/-5% of the final order tally, the market research firm noted.
“While this certainly is a welcome sign for the industry, and the first time in 2023 that year-over-year comparisons have been positive, one month of robust orders does not guarantee the full year,” said Jennifer McNealy, director CV market research and publications at ACT Research. “It’s still too early in the new year order season to call.”
The data continue to provide “mixed messages,” McNealy added, with cancellations remaining elevated, driven primarily by the van segments, both dry and reefer. However, backlogs remain at “healthy, albeit shorter” levels.
“In August, the BL/BU [backlog to build] ratio was north of five months in aggregate, with some specialty segments having no available build slots until the beginning of 2025,” she said. “We’ve been hearing that order discussions were occurring, and it looks like quotations are beginning to convert to ‘booked’ business.”
Using preliminary September orders and the corresponding OEM build plans from the September State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report (August data) for guidance, ACT Research estimates the trailer backlog to increase by around 4,200 units to about 138,800 units when complete September data are released.