Trailer orders continue to reflect market strength

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Updated Dec 28, 2020
The trailer order total for September-November was the second-highest three-month period on record.The trailer order total for September-November was the second-highest three-month period on record.

Net U.S. trailer orders for November reached 41,400 units, according to FTR, as fleets continue to scoop up build slots into next year.

While November order intake was down 26% from a particularly strong October, orders last month reflect a 107% jump from November 2019. The order total for September through November is the second-highest three-month period on record, and trailer orders for the last 12 months total 270,700 units.

“There is growing optimism by the fleets of a vibrant freight market in 2021. Strong freight growth is constraining capacity, fueling the need for additional trailers,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “Fleets are expecting a great year in 2021 and are ordering large quantities of trailers in preparation.”

Fleet profitability remains high due to a bright rate environment, Ake said, allowing fleets to replace older trailers while reducing the risk of expanding capacity.

“The dry van segment continues to show robust strength. More trailers are needed to handle the fast, multiple moves of consumer goods ordered through e-commerce,” he added.

Refrigerated van orders were lofty in November for the third month in a row. Flatbed orders finally started to recover after an extended dry spell, hitting their highest volume since January 2019.

“It’s encouraging to see flatbed orders finally showing some life,” Ake said. “This bodes well for the manufacturing and industrial sectors going into 2021.”

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]