Trailer orders climb to third-highest ever in September

“There could be some irrational exuberance behind orders this high,” an expert warns.

Reports show that trailer orders for September reached record numbers this year, all thanks to an increase in demand for consumer goods.

According to reports from Freight Transportation Research (FTR) on October 12th, trailer orders for September reached 52,000 units – 23,500 units above August and 33,400 more than September of last year, making it the third highest month ever. 

Most of the orders placed for September were for dry vans, with refrigerated van orders coming in second. This record-breaking number of orders may create a backlog, but production is still expected to climb back up to pre-pandemic levels. 

“There is expansion demand, replacement demand, dealer demand — just an enormous amount of demand for dry vans to keep consumer goods on the move,” said Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles for FTR.

“Fleets are expecting the hot freight market to continue into 2021 and want to be prepared with adequate capacity. Reefer demand should also continue to be strong, and benefit from more restaurant activity as 2021 progresses.”

FTR reports that the Congressional stimulus package put a lot of funds back into the economy, driving the consumer good sector and boosting dry freight demand and rates. 

“This appears to be a repeat of late 2018, when fleets ordered trailers in record numbers in September and October because of tight capacity and perceived limited build slots at the OEMs,” Ake continued.

“There could be some irrational exuberance behind orders this high. Fleets are expecting the current conditions to continue well into 2021, and this may not be the case,” he warned. “The trailer market has seen incredibly wide swings in 2020 and it is difficult to determine how long the current momentum can last. Orders may stay elevated if fleets compete to lock up future build slots as they did in 2018 and 2019.”