Trailer orders up in May over dismal April

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FTR reports final net trailer orders for May improved over the dismal April activity, coming in at 4,300 units, reports FTR.

Orders in May were up 1,200 percent month over month, but still substantially below last year, down 64 percent compared with May 2019. New orders are still tepid and cancellations were elevated for the third consecutive month. Trailer orders for the past 12 months now total 155,000 units, FTR states.

All segments except flatbeds and specialty experienced month-over-month order increases. FTR reports it appears fleets were still reluctant to replace old trailers amid the pandemic, which crashed the economy in March. Carriers continue to monitor the freight markets closely before committing to placing orders for 2020 deliveries.

“Freight demand has started a slow and choppy recovery after hitting the bottom in mid-April. The freight markets should continue to improve as concern about the pandemic wanes and more sectors of the economy reopen,” says Don Ake, FTR vice president, commercial vehicles. “A key area is the manufacturing sector which got severely crunched when many factories shut down, some not reopening until May. Industrial-related freight will take longer to recover than consumer freight.”

Ake says there are signs of life in the trailer market and FTR expects June order to be better than the previous two months.

“After that, it depends on the speed and strength of the economic recovery. The summer is traditionally a weak time for trailer orders, but the buying cycles have been disrupted,” he says. “Everything ordered in the next four months should still be for use this year. There is still a fair amount of quote activity happening, it just depends on fleet confidence going forward.”

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