February 23, 2017 3:50 PM, EST

Dry Van Demand Sends Trailer Orders Surging

Stoughton Trailers

U.S. net trailer orders in January shot up 92% year-over-year to almost 33,000 as dry van demand surged ahead, much as it has since November, ACT Research Co. said.

Total orders hit 32,737 in January, up from 17,027 in January 2016, and followed orders of 36,475 in November and 34,713 in December, according to ACT.

“Recent order activity indicates a substantive, positive change in fleet confidence,” Frank Maly, director of commercial vehicle transportation analysis and research at ACT, said in a statement.

In the past three months, dry van orders using seasonal adjustment, “have been booked at a 237,000-unit annualized rate, more than double the 114,000-unit rate experienced the preceding three months,” Maly said.

 One of the things ACT is beginning to consider is that the industry may be staring in the face of a bit of a pre-buy ahead of greenhouse gas regulations affecting trailers beginning in 2018, ACT President Kenny Vieth said.

At issue, is the usefulness and cost of some aerodynamic devices that are not yet widely accepted, he said. Trailers that are equipped to meet new emissions standards post-mandate must stay that way, he added. “All its life, it will have to always be GHG Phase 2, part one compliant.”

Also, trucker profitability is still reasonably good. Fleets re not buying a lot of trucks, so trailer sales are benefiting from that, he said.  “Although, the pent-up demand story is maybe getting a little long in the tooth, I think there is still an opportunity to upgrade the fleet without getting it too young in 2017.”

Also, carriers have aging trailers more than 10 or 11 years old, and of the 1.6 million dry van population, there “probably are still a couple of hundred thousand trailers — really old trailers — still on the road,” he added.