Trailer orders continue to slide but '2021 will be another fantastic year'

Cannon Mug Headshot
Updated Mar 17, 2021
Shutterstock 553790416

Although U.S. net trailer orders last month fell 23% month-over-month to a total of 23,100 units, according to preliminary data released Friday by FTR, they were still 64% above February last year.

Order activity, FTR noted, was "very consistent" with seasonal trends, following a record-setting fourth quarter 2020. Trailer orders for the past 12 months total 322,000. 

[Related: Truck orders strong as fleets chase healthy freight rates]

Fleets have placed large truck and trailer orders in response to robust freight demand and OEMs are under pressure to fill these orders due to bottlenecks in the supply chain.

Further complicating matters, FTR Vice President of Commercial Vehicles Don Ake said, some suppliers are facing worker shortages, some raw materials are scarce, and there are still delays getting some imported parts through West Coast ports.

"Once the situation improves, production will be steady, at high volumes for an extended time," he said. 

Freight markets continue to be strong with more trailers needed to meet the growing demand. Most fleets have already placed all their orders for 2021 delivery, especially for dry and refrigerated vans, Ake added. Orders in the flatbed and other vocational segments are expected to continue to recover until entering the summer months.

“2021 will be another fantastic year for the trailer industry once the supply chain stabilizes," he said.

"Freight growth should continue to be vibrant throughout the year. Consumer freight has been elevated for months and now manufacturing freight is poised to bounce. Demand for trailers will continue at elevated rates, right into 2022. Fleets desperately need more trailers right now and this trend will continue until supply catches up with demand.”

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].