FTR reports that preliminary U.S. net trailer orders came in at 30,000 units for January, falling 34% from the robust December numbers. However, January 2021 orders were 83% higher than last January. Trailer orders for the past twelve months total 313,000.
January trailer order activity met expectations, as most of the large fleets had already placed their 2021 requirements orders previously. A couple of OEMs are booked solid for dry vans for all of 2021 and have limited capacity to book additional orders. Orders for refrigerated vans have been robust for the last four months, so the pace here is moderating also. Orders for flatbeds have risen noticeably over the last two months and are expected to continue to improve in January.
Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles, commented, “Fleets are expecting 2021 to continue to be a great year for freight and have placed a hefty number of orders in the last five months. Replacement demand is solid because carriers are profitable. Expansion demand is growing due to the capacity constraints that emerged after the economic startup. Orders should continue to ease down due to the lack of available build slots. The challenge right now is for OEMs to fill near-term orders due to raw material and component shortages.”
“The good news about January orders is that flatbed orders continue to recover. This will allow OEMs to raise build rates through the first half of the year. Dump and tanker orders are also expected to show gains. This means the manufacturing and the industrial sectors are showing strength, and this should translate to lower unemployment and GDP support later in the year.”