New truck orders, trailer orders show life despite recession fears

September 23, 2022

Land Line Staff


New truck orders were modest in August, and trailer orders rose, but concerns for a recession in 2023 have tempered enthusiasm, according to news releases from market analysts at ACT Research.

Supply-chain disruptions continue, and the company is holding to expectations for a modest recession in the first quarter of 2023, according to Eric Crawford, ACT Research vice president and senior analyst. He noted in a news release that a freight downturn already started in the second quarter of 2022. He predicts a contraction in the fourth quarter of this year compared to sales last year.

Core inflation is defying expectations, he said, but ACT takes the chairman of the Federal Reserve at his word that it will take “forceful and rapid steps to moderate demand,” Crawford said.

In fact, Fed Chair Jerome Powell recently warned that his commitment to limiting inflation would inflict “some pain” on the economy. The Federal Reserve was expected to approve a 0.75 percentage point hike that will take its benchmark rate to the highest the fed funds rate has been since early 2008.

Original equipment manufacturers are showing some interest in buying trucks, he said.

“New order activity remained at modest levels in August, if above recent activity levels, as the OEMs slowly begin to open their 2023 order books,” Crawford said in the news release.

The May-July period is the weakest period of the year for new order activity, he noted. For Class 8 trucks, the weakness typically extends through September.

Trailer sales

Trailer sales rose in August, according to Jennifer McNealy, director of commercial vehicle market research and publications at ACT Research.

“With 2023 order boards slowly opening, it is no surprise that net orders in August were on the rise,” McNealy said in a news release. “It is equally no surprise that net orders continue to best 2021, given the continued supply-chain constraints – both in materials and labor – that trailer manufacturers are facing. With long backlogs, fleets still want to make sure their orders are in queue, regardless of when they will be filled.”

She said OEMs are reporting gradual improvements in supply-chain throughput. The backlog-to-build ratio, which has been about eight months, but is expected to drop to the seven-month mark when final data is released later this month.

Columbus, Ind.-based ACT Research publishes commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis, and forecasts for the North American and Chinese markets.

ACT’s State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 report provides a monthly look at the current production, sales, and general state of the on-road heavy- and medium-duty commercial vehicle markets in North America.

The company’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report provides a monthly review of the current U.S. trailer market statistics, as well as trailer original equipment manufacturers’ build plans and market indicators divided by major trailer types, including backlogs, build, inventory, new orders, cancellations, net orders, and factory shipments. LL

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