It is no secret that trucking companies are snapping up trailers as fast as they can be created. As such, an anomaly in the industry has happened where sales have reached an equilibrium point. FTR has the numbers.
January 2022 Sales Numbers
Freight Transportation Research has the estimated number of trailer sales for January pinned at around 26,000. This is but 500 fewer than the month prior, and indicates a pattern of buying that is equal to the rate tractors are being produced.
“Production has basically flatlined for nine months and now January orders are equal to December. The supply chain failures have created one of the most stable environments in the history of the industry,” notes Don Ake.
We are not sure if “stability” is the proper word to describe trailer sales within the trucking industry. While it is true that sales appear to equal production, the second half of Ake’s notes provide a shocking revelation. He says, “OEMs are not confident about getting more parts and components in the future, so they are not yet booking all the fleet commitments into the backlog.” This means that not only is the current trailer backlog huge (ACT Research estimates a lead time of 8 months, minimum), producers have given up on extending the backlog any further.
Getting a new trailer now is like waiting in a line to wait in a line.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
With how hard it is to get new trailers in today’s market, no doubt companies are holding on to their older trailers and using them longer. While this is a temporary solution to the supply chain shortages, will it be enough to outlast the problem? Only time will tell.
Because producers are hesitant to lengthen the backlog due to the uncertainty of the future, it is hard to tell just how much pent-up demand exists for new trailers. ACT Research’s backlog estimates, combined with FTR’s sales numbers indicate that the industry is short by at least 208,000 trailers. We do not know how long until production ramps up, but as long as there is a profit to be made, manufacturers will work to whittle that number down, even if it is only 26,000 at a time.
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