Limited build slots spur 31 percent April trailer orders

Compared to one year ago, trailer orders have declined 31 percent in April, according to ACT Research. However, the firm projected a touch of optimism by stating the drop-off was due not to decreased demand, but in a shortage of manufacturing capacity.

In other words, it’s not that people don’t want to place new trailer orders, it is that the supply cannot keep up with the demand. That is, while a problem, a good problem for the industry to have (or at least it is better than the alternative, which is that manufacturers have a large number of extra, unsold and unwanted trailers).

Trailer makers collected nearly 18,000 net last month, down more than 26,000 from April 2014, and a 22 percent drop from the 23,135 taken in back in March, according to ACT Research. Orders have decreased from year-ago levels for the third straight month, the group reported.

Frank Maly, an analyst for ACT, said this latest downturn reflects the scarcity of build slots in 2015 for many key product lines after a “tremendous” surge in new trailer orders placed from September to January. During that time, the fleets made order commitments earlier than they usually would have, in an attempt to beat the competition and ensure the timely delivery of their trailers, he noted.

“Our view that 2015 will be the best trailer market since the late 1990s remains unchanged,” he said in response to the statistical shortfall.

The first four months of 2015 has led to the building of about 100,000 trailers, up a cool 25 percent from the end of Quarter 1 in 2014. By the end of April, the industry’s backlog has remained at about 171,000 units, which represents about seven months of production, according to Maly. That order backlog was down about 5 percent from the previous month, but still was about 40 percent above the previous year’s figures.

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Rep. Nancy Pelosi takes GOP to task on Highway Trust Fund

Politics have long had a place in the trucking industry, and it again has played the partisan game as lawmakers debate the Highway Trust Fund. In the latest bit of news, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California who serves in the House of Representatives, has bashed the GOP for their attitude toward the Highway Trust Fund, more accurately because they are not taking a close look at the bill.

Pelosi is in favor of the bill, and believes the improvements in infrastructure are vital to the continued success of the American economy, and she took the Republicans to task for what she sees as their reluctance to do the same.

“While they took over the House since 2011, the Ways and Means Committee has not had a single hearing on financing the Highway Trust Fund, the highway bill — not one single hearing. Again, we need bigger paychecks, better infrastructure for every hard-working family,” Pelosi said to reporters on May 21.

Several Democrats this year, including Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, have asked the Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, to schedule a hearing on the trust fund. Blumenauer’s aide Paul Balmer reported that Ryan’s camp promised a hearing on the trust fund, but thus far has not scheduled one.

This bill has been on the table for several months as lawmakers have called for a long-term funding solution that would allow improvements to be made on federal roads around the country. Democrats have called infrastructure improvements a vital cog in the success of the nation.

Department to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx had said the trust fund would be able to continue working through July before the account falls to low levels. The Senate was expected to give the President a two-month window in which to authorize funding for the trust fund. That authorization expires on May 31.

The House voted to the Senate a short-term extension, which passed by a wide vote, but it is still necessary to create a long-term plan for funding in order to ensure the proper improvements and maintenances can be made.