COLUMBUS and BLOOMINGTON, IN — U.S. trailer net orders in July totaled more than 20,300 units, a 27 percent decline from the unsustainable 27,900-unit June pace, but still managed to rise 7 percent on a year-over-year basis.
That’s according to recent figures released by commercial industry vehicle date provider ACT Research Co.
“While total net orders were off 27 percent month over month, the majority of that decline was dry van related, a response to the unusually strong dry van volume in June,” said Frank Maly, director of commercial vehicle transportation analysis and research at ACT. “Dry vans and flatbeds drove most of the slight jump in cancellations that occurred in July, with the flatbed shift reported to be the response to dealers bringing their inventories more in line with current demand.”
He said that some pressure in vocational trailers is likely over the next few months, as the full impact of the recent energy price declines is yet to be seen.
“Lower prices will continue to dampen exploration, as well as the accompanying equipment investment,” Maly said. “Our view that 2015 will be the best trailer market since the late 1990s remains unchanged.”
Meantime, a second report shows U.S. trailer net orders were 20,400 units during July 24 percent below the previous month but still a 13 percent improvement over a year ago.
The month-over-month decline was particularly impacted by a drop in dry van orders following some large fleet orders placed in June, according to the freight forecasting firm FTR.
It reported although lower, dry van orders in July were still good on a seasonal basis, and refrigerated van orders exceeded expectations again. U.S. trailer orders have now totaled 335,000 units over the past twelve months.
However, there are now indications that certain trailer segments, such as flatbeds and tankers, are slowing. Conversely, refrigerated vans and dump trailers remain robust. Dry vans are steady at a very strong level.
Overall trailer build was down 1 percent versus June with variations by trailer segment. Refrigerated van build reached a high point in July, with dump trailer production also remaining strong. Production fell marginally for dry vans and more significantly for flatbed and dry tanks. Liquid tank production remained steady.
“We have indications that the market is peaking, but there is no evidence that it is going to drop significantly next year,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “It looks like a soft landing in general. However, certain trailer segments are being hard hit by the pullback in the energy industry and weaker manufacturing.”