ACT Research

Trailer orders soften to open 2024—as expected: ACT Research

Feb. 17, 2024
With fleet profits down, trailer orders are coming in but 'not at the same rapid pace that they have the last few years,' says ACT's McNealy

January’s preliminary net trailer orders decreased “nominally” from December to January to 13,700 units, and orders were lower compared to last January, down nearly 43%, according to ACT Research. A seasonal adjustment, allowing for peak order season, lowers January’s tally to 12,400 units. Final January results will be available later this month. This preliminary market estimate should be within +/-5% of the final order tally, the research firm noted.

“With the pent-up demand enjoyed by the industry during the past few years largely extinguished, a softer opening to 2024 meets expectations,” said Jennifer McNealy, director CV market research and publications at ACT Research. She added, “Net orders are being challenged by a backdrop of weak profitability for for-hire truckers, and anecdotal commentary from trailer manufacturers throughout the past several months have been indicating this slowing, as they have shared that orders are coming but not at the same rapid pace that they have the last few years.”

January’s results continue support the thesis that when fleets don’t make money, their ability and/or willingness to purchase equipment is muted, McNealy added.

“That said, the lower orders don’t indicate a catastrophic year in the offing, simply one that is on target to be less stellar than we’ve seen recently,” she said. “Another indicator being watched closely is cancellations, which oscillated above comfortable levels for most segments in January. While the industry’s largest segments are under pressure, some specialty segments have no available build slots until late in 2024 at the earliest, while others are in the three-month range.”

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