July trailer orders hit the highest point this year

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Updated Aug 18, 2020

Net trailer orders in July reached 19,300 units, their highest level this year, according to data released by FTR Monday. July order activity was up 33% from June, 84% year-over-year, and trailer orders now total 173,000 for the past 12 months.

FTR Vice President of Commercial Vehicles Don Ake noted last month’s robust activity level will allow most OEMs to maintain production rates for the next few months, as fleets show renewed confidence in freight markets and increase order volume accordingly.

“OEMs also feel much better about business conditions than they did in Q2,” he added. “While sales are not vibrant, they are still much better than were expected only a couple of months ago. The industry is making a solid comeback considering the circumstances.”

Dry van orders have continued to bounce back after a hard slide during the pandemic, and refrigerated van orders were solid for the second consecutive month. Flatbed orders remain soft as the manufacturing sector struggles to regain its footing. Ake said backlogs should begin to stabilize, providing a base for higher 2021 production.

“The best news about July is that some of the orders came from dealers. OEMs were concerned that their dealers were overstocked in May and that would limit future production,” he said. “However, dealer sales were stronger than expected in June and July, prompting dealers to place some restocking orders.”

Ake said higher dealer activity indicates some medium and small fleets are finding freight to haul and the improved business conditions also indicate larger fleets are beginning to replace older trailers after pausing during the pandemic.