According to a recent report from FTR, preliminary trailer orders for March are still being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, falling 54% from February to 6,500 units for the month. Year over year, orders were down 55%.
Totals in March were particularly low for dry vans, with some large fleets canceling orders that were spread out over the remainder of the year. Flatbed orders were also lukewarm, as the manufacturing sector of the economy was partially shut down in March. Refrigerated van orders fell, but not to the same amount as other segments. Trailer orders for the past 12 months now total 177,000 units.
“The trailer market is mirroring the Class 8 side, as fleets are extremely cautious due to the anxiety about the virus,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “The orders placed in March are for units that are perceived to be absolutely necessary for relatively short-term needs. Fleets will also delay replacing older trailers until the economic situation stabilizes. Orders did exceed last June’s 5,600 total when some large fleets canceled dry van orders as the freight market cooled.”
FTR expects there will be some over-capacity in the short-term due to the large number of new trailers that entered the market in the last three years, with some idle during this current economic downturn.
“They will go back into service gradually as things recover,” added Ake. “However, this will limit new trailer demand for a while. This is a severe wait-and-see situation with a potentially long wait period. Expect orders to track around the 10,000-unit mark for a few months as a result.”