Trailer orders plummet as COVID-19 fears slow economy to a crawl

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Updated Apr 7, 2020

Trailers order activity for February barely cracked 13,000 units, the lowest total for the month since the recession of 2009, according data released last week by FTR. February 2020 trailer orders were down 20% month-over-month and 45% year-over-year.

“This is about as much uncertainty as can be injected into the trailer market,” said FTR Vice President of Commercial Vehicles Don Ake. “There are too many unknowns, and this, of course, runs across all sectors of the economy, which means it impacts all segments of trailers. Few fleets are ordering, and no one is placing large orders in this chaotic environment.”

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Trailer orders have now totaled 184,000 units for the past 12 months and were generally weak across all segments and OEMs last month. Cancellations were up, representing the anxiety in the market and the country and trailer order trends largely mirrored what occurred in the Class 8 market.

“With the event cancellations and societal restrictions being implemented in March, it is expected that orders will fall further,” Ake said. “Orders should recover significantly when the situation stabilizes. The [COVID-19 coronavirus] is expected to cause some shifts in freight demand as consumers change their buying habits in the short-term. Fleets have enough equipment to handle current freight volumes, so they can afford to wait until the crisis abates before ordering new trailers.”

Jason Cannon has written about trucking and transportation for more than a decade and serves as Chief Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. A Class A CDL holder, Jason is a graduate of the Porsche Sport Driving School, an honorary Duckmaster at The Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee, and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Reach him at [email protected]