August 23, 2017 5:15 PM, EDT

More Trailer Makers Explore Options as E-Commerce Outpaces Total Retail Growth

Hyundai Translead trailers Hyundai Translead

Trailer makers Hyundai Translead and Strick Group are exploring options to provide equipment deliveries in the final mile as growth in e-commerce outpaces growth in retail sales overall, they said in separate announcements.

Hyundai Translead is “evaluating ways to support the rapidly developing e-commerce niche,” said Glen Harney, chief sales officer at Hyundai Translead.

“We are focused on the transportation industry and we will act once we determine the best solution,” he said.

In the second quarter, U.S. e-commerce sales jumped 16.3% year-over-year, while total retail sales climbed 4.4% in the same period, according to Census Bureau data.

In all, e-commerce sales of $105 billion accounted for 8.2% of total sales in the quarter, compared with total retail sales of $1.27 trillion, the quarterly e-commerce report showed. The agency is a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Meanwhile, Strick said it tailors its equipment for carriers providing final-mile deliveries.

“Strick plans to address the required new product offerings with ‘customer-ized’ solutions that help select carriers maximize operational efficiency and create competitive market opportunities that exceed their customers’ expectations,” said Charles Willmott, chief sales officer at Strick Group.

Also, Great Dane builds truck bodies through its subsidiary Johnson Refrigerated Truck Bodies and at its plant in Brazil, Ind.

“The traditional JTB products are refrigerated only, high-performance fiberglass design. The Brazil-built bodies are under the Great Dane name and are dry and sheet-and-post refrigerated, designed in order to meet a broader market,” said David Gilliland, Great Dane’s vice president of national accounts.

The industry focus on final-mile deliveries was underscored when Wabash National Corp. reached a definitive agreement recently to acquire truck-body manufacturer Supreme Industries for more than $300 million, a move that would catapult Wabash to the rank of the second-largest U.S. truck-body manufacturer as it expands its focus on e-commerce equipment.

Willmott called Wabash’s acquisition of Supreme a bold move.

“I can see that being in the truck body business puts [Wabash] closer to last-mile delivery segment featured in e-commerce because of the historical use of straight trucks for this key segment, but I do not believe that the purchase of Supreme puts Wabash any closer or further away from innovating the game-changing technology that we will see in the next five years,” Willmott said.

Wabash reported its orders in May and June for new truck body models bound for e-commerce were the largest in the “short history of this initiative. As expected, final-mile is an ever-evolving space where we can be a formidable player and one where we see substantial growth over the next several years,” Wabash CEO Richard Giromini said during the company’s latest earnings call.

Those second-quarter orders improved 80%, compared with the first quarter, according to the company, and it expects related revenues from this portion of its commercial trailer products business to grow to $10 million in 2017.