ACT Research: US Trailer Industry Orderboards for 2023 are Fully Open and Nearly Fully Committed

ACT Research Co.
3 min readMay 22, 2023

During the past six months, trailer manufacturers and major suppliers have largely indicated stable business conditions as compared to each prior month. Responses for May, relative to April, were in line with this trend. That said, this month’s discussions indicated softer demand for 2024 and mixed concern regarding the supply of labor, according to this month’s issue of ACT Research’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report.

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

“The seasonally adjusted backlog-to-build ratio dropped 130 basis points m/m, to 6.9 months in April, from March’s 8.2-month level,” said Jennifer McNealy, Director–CV Market Research & Publications at ACT Research. “Seasonal adjustment takes dry van BL/BU to 7.1 months and reefers to 8.5, so either way one looks at it, with or without seasonal adjustment, and despite the improvement in build, this essentially commits the industry very close to year-end 2023.”

Evidencing continued improvements in supply-chain constraints, April’s build per day increased. That said, overall build was 13% lower m/m due to four fewer build days in April than in March. Production growth continues its upswing, and our projections point to a continuation of that trend.

McNealy concluded, “OEMs are reporting that their orderboards for 2023 are fully open, with most booked through the end of the year, and we are hearing that some trailer makers are taking orders into 2024. That said, several concerns are weighing on their minds, including the labor market, slowing demand into 2024, Fed hikes, business investment providing continued pressure on carrier profitability, recession risk, material supply availability and cost, and how all these factors are likely to impact dealer confidence.”

While the sky isn’t falling, there certainly are some clouds on the horizon that bear watching as we move through the remainder of 2023 and prepare for 2024.

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 www.actresearch.net.

--

--

ACT Research Co.

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