Orders & Indices


FTR Reports Preliminary Trailer Orders Stay in Mid-20,000 Range for February

FTR reports preliminary trailer orders for February at 24,000 units, -9% m/m and -27% y/y. February was the third month in row that trailer orders were in the mid-20,000’s as some van OEM’s are basically solid out for 2019, with few build slots left open. Dry van fleets that need trailers this year are grabbing whatever build slots they can find, regardless of their historical brand preference. Vocational trailer demand remains stable, but down from the strong order rates a few months ago. Trailer orders for the past 12 months now total 386,000.


FTR Trucking Conditions Index for January Falls Back to Single Digit Positive Reading

After a spike to a 11.44 positive reading in December, FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index fell back to 5.79 in January as was expected. The January level was attributed to higher costs of capital along with lower freight demand and capacity utilization. Even the January level will not be sustained for long as conditions for trucking are expected to moderate further toward neutral territory through at least Q3.


FTR Reports North American Class 8 Orders for February Remain Subdued at 16,700 Units

FTR reports preliminary North American Class 8 orders for February remained subdued for the second consecutive months at 16,700 units, +5% m/m but down 58% y/y.  January-February 2019 are the lowest two-month period since October-November 2016. 

Several OEM’s are booked solid for 2019 with limited sales slots open for the remainder of the year, so orders are likely to stay in this depressed range until 2020 order boards are opened up.  The weaker orders mean that backlogs will tumble for the second straight month, but they remain at historically high levels.  Class 8 orders for the past 12 months have now totaled 429,000 units. 


FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index for December Highest Since August 2016

After a basically neutral reading in November, FTR’s Shipping Conditions Index (SCI) moved into positive territory in December. The December SCI measure at 1.7 was the strongest for the index since August of 2016. After a short weakening period in 2019Q1, the SCI is expected to maintain the December level through the balance of the year. The unusual dual positive readings in December for measuring both Shippers Conditions as well as Trucking Conditions were primarily driven by improved freight volume and lower fuel prices without much change in freight rates.


FTR Reports Final Trailer Orders for January at 26,300 Units

FTR reports final trailer orders for January at 26,300 units down 5% m/m and 39% y/y. Although down from December, January orders came in higher than expected. The order level meets current trailer production rates so backlogs remain near record levels. The considerable y/y negative comparison for trailer orders is primarily the result of the huge spike in orders during January 2018, as fleets scrambled to catch up with robust freight growth. Cancellations were elevated in January for the second straight month, as fleets shift orders around to more precisely fit their requirements. Orders during the month were particularly strong for specialty trailers. Trailer orders for the past 12 months now total 396,000.


FTR Trucking Conditions Index for December Spikes to Double-Digit Positive Reading

Following the November bounce back of FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index the December measure spiked to a reading of 11.46. The sharply improved December reading is a result of strong m/m growth in volumes along with a favorable fuel environment. However, FTR forecasts that this level will not be sustained in 2019 with readings falling back to the mid-single digit positive readings in January and moving steadily to more neutral conditions likely by Q4.


FTR Reports North American Class 8 Orders for January Drop 26% M/M to Lowest Since October 2016

FTR reports preliminary North American Class 8 orders for January 2019 dropped 26% M/M to the lowest since October 2016 at 15,600 units. This year’s January order activity was down 67% versus last year and is the worst for the month since 2010. The low Class 8 order number was not entirely unexpected, as the great majority of fleets already have all their orders in for 2019 and don’t need to place any more orders for a while. Backlogs are expected to fall, but should remain over 70% higher than a year ago. Class 8 orders for the past 12 months have now totaled 402,000 units.


FTR’s November Shippers Conditions Index for November Moves into Positive Territory

Continued softening in rates and lowering fuel prices contributed to FTR’s Shippers Condition Index (SCI) for November moving from negative territory to a positive reading of 0.1. This is the first positive reading for the index in more than two years and is the best since August of 2016. FTR expects the SCI to stay within a range close to neutral throughout 2019. However, the measure could move into even more positive territory if freight demand weakens further alongside strong truck buying and improved driver hiring pushing freight rates lower.