Trailer Industry Delights in First Positive Y/Y Net Order Comparisons of 2023

As September dawns, it marks the beginning of the peak order season, and while it’s quite tempting to exclaim, “Here comes the sun,” we’d be amiss not to acknowledge a few essential facts. Firstly, relying on the data from just one month isn’t sufficient to dispel the lingering clouds. Secondly, the freight market continues to be shrouded in its own uncertainties, as revealed in this month’s edition of ACT Research’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report.

Let’s delve into the world of the Trailer Industry and its intriguing Backlog & Backlog/Build Ratio. In the words of Jennifer McNealy, the Director of CV Market Research & Publications at ACT Research, “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,” McNealy goes on to share, “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. September marked the first time in 2023 that y/y comparisons have been positive, so certainly a welcome sign for the industry.””

Shifting our attention to the trailer backlog, McNealy elaborates, “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.”

The intriguing part, McNealy tells us, is that despite the month’s larger backlog, the ratio of backlog to build remains in good health. A robust September build rate has resulted in a seasonally adjusted backlog-to-build ratio of 6.0 months. McNealy aptly concludes, “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. 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’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report offers us a tantalizing glimpse into the current statistics of the U.S. trailer market. It unveils the trailer OEM build plans and market indicators segmented by all the major trailer types, including data on backlogs, production, inventory, new orders, cancellations, net orders, and factory shipments. A treasure trove of historical data dating back to 1996 is made available through its accompanying database, while a ready-to-use graph packet equips those within the trailer production supply chain and investors tracking the trailer market to gain a deeper understanding of its intricacies.

With its finger on the pulse of the commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry, ACT Research is our guiding star. It’s no surprise that their analytical services are sought after by the major North American truck and trailer manufacturers, their suppliers, and the esteemed figures in banking and investment. As a notable contributor to the Blue Chip Economic Indicators and a proud member of the Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Panel, ACT Research’s executives have been duly recognized. They’ve taken a seat at the Board of Directors of the National Association for Business Economics, served as Consulting Economists to the National Private Truck Council, and been honored with the Lawrence R. Klein Award for the Most Accurate Economic Forecast through four challenging years. It’s no wonder that their senior staff members have earned their stripes, including accolades such as the Best Overall Forecast at the Chicago Federal Reserve Automotive Outlook Symposium, being featured in the Wall Street Journal’s Top Economic Outlook, and even gracing the list of the USA Today’s Top 10 Economic Forecasters.

To satiate your curiosity further, venture over to, where you can uncover a treasure trove of insights and knowledge about the dynamic world of commercial vehicles and trailers. In the realm of business, economics, and trends, ACT Research shines as a beacon of knowledge and foresight, guiding us through the intriguing twists and turns of the marketplace. So, dear readers, stay tuned and keep your eyes on the horizon – the trailer market’s journey continues to be a captivating one!

Source: ACT Research, October 24th 2023