ACT Research: US Trailer Production Rebound Not Across-the-Board, Lower Replacement Demand Expected

According to this quarter’s issue of ACT Research’s Trailer Components Report, analysis of the last decade of trailer production shows that the industry opened the year at an average production pace until the shelter-in-place lockdowns began in late Q1.

ACT Research’s U.S. New Trailer Components and Materials Forecast provides those in the trailer production supply chain, as well as those who invest in said suppliers and commodities, with forecast quantities of components and raw materials required to support the trailer forecast for the coming five years. It includes near-term quarterly predictions for two years, while the latter three years of the forecast are shown in annual details. Additionally, analysis is segmented into two categories: those needed for the structural composition of new trailers and those used in the production of undercarriage assembly.

“Although a widespread shutdown of production of both commercial trucks and autos occurred as part of the overall Q2 societal lockdowns, the commercial trailer segment continued to operate, albeit at lower rates,” said Frank Maly, Director–CV Transportation Analysis and Research at ACT Research. He explained, “After remaining barely positive in April, a soft gain in net orders occurred in May. That was followed by better demand in both June and July; those months exceeded previous year levels.”

Maly also noted, “Despite better order trends, adjustments to production as we moved into summer were a foregone conclusion; the only question was timing. With holiday shutdowns already scheduled in July, OEMs took the opportunity to further extend planned down-time in response to the low orderboards.”

Used 08.26.20

He continued, “The recent order rebound is extremely dry van centric, so OEMs and component and material suppliers in the dry van and reefer markets will be less impacted than those in the vocational trailer segments. From a timing standpoint, most of the recent order rebound will be more impactful to late Q3 and Q4 volumes.”

When asked about future trailer production, Maly commented, “Several non-COVID driven factors will continue to impact trailer volumes over the next few years. The surge of trailer acquisitions in 2017-19 has increased trailers in operation, decreased average life of trailers in use, and more than caught up with delayed replacement of older units. In addition to the market impact of an economy crawling from the worst quarterly performance in history, replacement volumes will also be lower than in recent years.”

Additionally, ACT Research has created an easily accessible COVID-19 MARKET WATCH webpage to track noteworthy high frequency macroeconomic and transportation-specific market indicators, which can be found here.

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

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