April Trailer orders in the U.S. plummeted by nearly half compared to last year, according to ACT Research, a business data and analysis service. In April 2022, nearly 20,000 trailers were ordered. This year that number is an estimated 10,000. The drop continued from March with figures showing that 16,800 trailers were ordered.
Despite these numbers, backlogs for most trailer types are at their highest level. In fact, April data shows that the backlog is at about 213,000 units.
“Seasonal expectations called for orders to pull back in April, particularly given the near record-level order backlogs and supply chain challenges being experienced by the industry,” said Jennifer McNealy, ACT’s director of commercial vehicles market research and publications. “Demand appears to be softening, albeit against strong comparisons.”
Other industry analysts indicate the market has normalized after two years of very high demand which was often disrupted by supply chain issues. David Giesen from Wisconsin-based Stoughton Trailers says that demand still exceeds his company’s ability to manufacture new trailers.
“We have a very strong backlog, especially looking at historical trends. A very good backlog. We’re practically filled for the year, which you’ll probably hear from most people,” said Giesen.
Chris Hammond, executive vice president of sales at Chicago-based Great Dane, concurred with Giesen, saying “While orders are slower this month, backlogs are still extended with some customer segments into 2024.”
Hammond said he doesn’t expect orders to outpace production as the market hits its normal cycle later this year.
He said, “All in all, 2023 will end up being a strong year for trailer and truck-body builders. As we enter 2024, we think flats and reefers stay strong and expect some van segments to slow down.”