ACT Research
Total Trailer Backlog Backlog Build Ratio June 2023

ACT: ‘Clouds’ on trailer-market horizon ‘bear watching’

July 25, 2023
“As expected, production outpaced orders again in June, dropping trailer backlogs 12% sequentially and 10% year-over-year,” commercial vehicle market analyst reports.

ACT Research says “clouds” on the trailer-market horizon “bear watching” while also acknowledging this is the seasonally weakest time of the year for forward-looking metrics in its latest State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report.

“As expected, production outpaced orders again in June, dropping trailer backlogs 12% sequentially and 10% year-over-year,” Jennifer McNealy, ACT’s director of CV market research and publications, said in a news release. “Dry van, reefer, and flatbed backlogs were down month-over-month, while dumps were higher, as net orders slightly outpaced build in that segment.

“Despite the big sequential drop in trailer backlogs, the seasonally adjusted backlog-to-build ratio shed a modest 20 basis points, to 7.1 months in June from May’s 7.3-month level and 8.5 months from last June.

“While lower, the current backlog essentially commits the industry into the beginning of 2024.”

Regarding cancellations, McNealy said, “Fleet commitments remained mixed in June. Total cancels dropped to 2.8% of backlog, from May’s 4.2% rate. OEMs are still reporting that most cancellations are coming from the dealer network, although fleet and model-year cancellation-rebooks are being reported as the 2024 orderboards begin to open and slots get pushed.”

ACT earlier this month pegged June’s preliminary net trailer orders at 6,300 units (8,000 seasonally adjusted).

“Preliminary net orders were 34% lower compared to May’s intake, and down 75% versus the same month last year,” McNealy said.

“Seasonal expectations suggest orders are likely to remain soft the coming few months, particularly given near record-level order backlogs. Trailer manufacturers normally spend mid-year working down the backlog ahead of the next year’s full orderboard opening.”

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