What had happened to the trailer market in January 2022 also happened to the new Class 8 market. With no new trucks in reserves, they are rolling off the production lot and going straight to work. FTR’s and ACT Research’s numbers are below.
January 2022 Numbers
The twin research organizations are very close in their estimates for the previous month: FTR says 21,400, and ACT Research says 21,300.
Without context these numbers seem pretty good, but sales are roughly half of what they were at the same time last year. It is safe to say that while supplies for trucks have finally caught up to COVID-19 lockdowns in early 2020, the pent-up demand has not.
“OEMs are entering orders at the same rate as production,” says Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “Backlogs have tracked in a narrow range for the last 10 months, which is odd in this cyclical industry. Normally, this would indicate a very stable market. In this case, it reflects a market frozen by a weak supply chain.”
Likewise, as with trailers, businesses hoping to get a new truck would be lucky to get on a backlog, let alone a backlog with a wait time of fewer than five months.
Driven to the Ground
With markets for used trucks and components being impacted as well, fleets will have to work to maintain what they already have. Companies that may have had a useful life of seven years for their trucks may find it more economically feasible to hold on to them for ten years instead.
The problem is further exacerbated by the number of necessary parts in a truck compared to a trailer. We will refrain from going into specifics, but it should be clear that a dry van trailer requires fewer parts to build than a big rig with an engine that weighs over 3,000 pounds alone.
There are ultimately two ways these shortages can go: either things will return to normal soon, production will ramp up, and prices stabilize, or there could be a new variant that causes governments at all levels to enact new stay-at-home orders. We hope that it is the former and that trucking can experience a renaissance with minimal restrictions.
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