Trailer and truck orders, used truck prices surge in January

Jason Cannon February 26, 2014

Trailer orders got off to a hot start in January, surging 28 percent year-over-year according to the most recent State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers published by ACT Research Co. (ACT).

“Seven of the ten trailer categories had year-over-year growth in January,” saysFrank Maly, Director – CV Transportation Analysis and Research at ACT.

“Particular strength came from reefer vans, which rose 80 percent from year-ago levels, tank trailers, which saw triple-digit gains from cancellation depleted results in early 2013, and heavy lowbeds which posted high double-digit gains (year-over-year) and (month-over-month),” he adds.

The industry is in the midst of its annual order season and January’s orders helped backlog open the year with a solid 8 percent month-over-month gain.

Maly says build rates, which fell 10 percent, were been negatively affected by the bitter weather that swept the country in January.

Trailers weren’t the only segment enjoying a big January.

Class 8 net orders started 2014 up 9 percent month-over-month and 51 percent year-over-year. Classes 5-7 also got off to a good start with orders up 14 percent month-over-month and 33 percent year-over-year, according to ACT.

“While orders were strong, one has to read between the lines to appreciate Class 8 retail sales in January,” says Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst at ACT Research Co., LLC. “Thanks to year-ending tax and sales incentives, Class 8 retail sales posted a sharp drop in January from December. But this is the case every year.”

Applying seasonal adjustment gives a better picture, Vieth adds.

“Adjusted Class 8 sales rose 9 percent month-over-month to a 22-month high. Strong orders pushed backlogs to a 22-month high and the backlog/build ratio jumped to 4.9 months,” he says.

For medium duty, all of January’s sequential order strength and most of the year-over-year improvement came from the heavier end of the market, Classes 6-7.

“Broken down by vehicle type, trucks accounted for virtually all of the sequential order increase,” Vieth says.

The average selling price of a used Class 8 truck in January was more than $44,000 in the month, ACT says, a 15 percent year-over-year gain and a record price, ACT reported.


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