ACT Research: Trailer Industry Sees Positive Y/Y Net Order Comparisons for the First Time in 2023

ACT Research Co.
3 min readOct 24, 2023

For the past three months, we have written about dark clouds on the trailer market horizon. September opens the peak order season, and while it is tempting to say, “here comes the sun,” we would be remiss if we didn’t note that a) one month’s data isn’t enough to blow those clouds away, and b) the freight market clouds have also not started to clear, according to this month’s issue of ACT Research’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report.

“September’s order intake, at 31,300 units, signifies that interest remains and the negotiations of the past few months are turning into booked business,” said Jennifer McNealy, Director–CV Market Research & Publications at ACT Research. “What we don’t yet know, and why some in the industry still consider demand worse than a year ago, is how long this level of deal closing can be sustained amid the freight recession that has lingered through 2023,” she explained. McNealy added, “September marked the first time in 2023 that y/y comparisons have been positive, so certainly a welcome sign for the industry.”

a graph showing the the trailer industry backlog and backlog-to-build ratio with data from January 2014 through September 2023
Trailer Industry Backlog & Backlog/Build Ratio

Regarding the trailer backlog, she stated, “As expected, orders outpaced production in September, as the annual peak order season kicked off in good fashion. Trailer backlogs grew 3% sequentially, but were nearly 21% lower y/y, against 2022’s supply-chain constrained and pent-up demand heavy environment. The backlog is now nearly 138.8k units.”

McNealy continued, “With a two-week drop, the positioning of the backlog relative to build remains healthy. Despite the month’s bigger backlog, a stronger September build rate pushed the seasonally adjusted backlog-to-build ratio to 6.0 months.” She concluded, “At September’s build rate, the current backlog essentially commits the industry well into Q1’24. That said, the data continue to provide mixed messages, with cancellations remaining elevated, even as backlogs remain at healthy, albeit shorter, levels.”

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.