ACT Research: Preliminary Net Trailer Orders Post Seasonal Spike in September

ACT Research Co.
3 min readOct 17, 2023

September’s preliminary net trailer orders increased sequentially, to 31,300 units, against a very easy August comp, and were notably higher compared to last September, up 19%. As the opening month of peak order season, seasonal adjustment (SA) lowers September’s SA tally to 28,700 units. Final September results will be available later this month. This preliminary market estimate should be within +/-5% of the final order tally.

a graph showing the US trailer net orders with data from January 2019 through preliminary September 2023
US Trailer Net Orders — September 2023 (Prelim)

“Preliminary net orders, at 28,700 seasonally adjusted, were 95% higher sequentially,” said Jennifer McNealy, Director CV Market Research & Publications at ACT Research. She added, “While this certainly is a welcome sign for the industry, and the first time in 2023 that year-over-year comparisons have been positive, one month of robust orders does not guarantee the full year. It’s still too early in the new year order season to call.”

McNealy continued, “The data continue to provide mixed messages, with cancellations remaining elevated, driven primarily by the van segments, both dry and reefer, even as backlogs remain at healthy, albeit shorter, levels. In August, the BL/BU ratio was north of five months in aggregate, with some specialty segments having no available build slots until the beginning of 2025.” She concluded, “We’ve been hearing that order discussions were occurring, and it looks like quotations are beginning to convert to ‘booked’ business.”

When asked about the backlog’s trajectory, she commented, “Using preliminary September orders and the corresponding OEM build plans from the September State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report (August data) for guidance, we would expect the trailer backlog to increase by around 4,200 units to about 138,800 units when complete September data are released. As this number is derived from estimated data, note there will be some variability to reported backlogs when final data are collected.”

ACT Research, State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers

ACT Research’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report provides a monthly review of the current US trailer market statistics, as well as trailer OEM build plans and market indicators divided by all major trailer types, including backlogs, build, inventory, new orders, cancellations, net orders, and factory shipments. It is accompanied by a database that gives historical information from 1996 to the present, as well as a ready-to-use graph packet, to allow organizations in the trailer production supply chain, and those following the investment value of trailers, trailer OEMs, and suppliers to better understand the market.

ACT Research is recognized as the leading publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis, and forecasts for the North America and China markets. ACT’s analytical services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as banking and investment companies. ACT Research is a contributor to the Blue Chip Economic Indicators and a member of the Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Panel. ACT Research executives have received peer recognition, including election to the Board of Directors of the National Association for Business Economics, appointment as Consulting Economist to the National Private Truck Council, and the Lawrence R. Klein Award for Blue Chip Economic Indicators’ Most Accurate Economic Forecast over a four-year period. ACT Research senior staff members have earned accolades including Chicago Federal Reserve Automotive Outlook Symposium Best Overall Forecast, Wall Street Journal Top Economic Outlook, and USA Today Top 10 Economic Forecasters. More information can be found at



ACT Research Co.

ACT Research is the leader in commercial vehicle industry data, market analysis, and forecasting services for North America.