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ACT Research says preliminary January trailer orders show 7% drop from December

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An ACT Research executive said with backlogs extending through the year for dry vans and reefers, OEMs would likely need to quickly open 2020 orderbooks to allow for further backlog growth in the near-term. (Courtesy: GREAT DANE)

COLUMBUS, Ind. — ACT’s preliminary estimate for January 2019 net trailer orders is 25,800 units.

Final volume will be available later this month.

ACT said its methodology allows it to generate a preliminary estimate of the market that should be within +/- 3 percent of the final order tally.

“While the industry had the weakest January order volume since 2016, it was still sufficient enough to generate very minor orderboard growth,” said Frank Maly, ACT’s Director of CV transportation analysis and research. “January net orders were off 7 percent versus December and 35 percent down year-over-year. Slower dry van and reefer trailer volume contributed to the declines. Indications are lower orders were not the result of weak fleet demand, as some OEMs report unwillingness to accept additional orders that would extend orderboards that, according to some reports, already fill available 2019 build slots.”

Maly also noted that the slight gain in the orderboard means that January was the third consecutive month that the industry posted an all-time record backlog, although the pace of improvement is beginning to wane.

“With backlogs extending through the year for dry vans and reefers, OEMs would likely need to quickly open 2020 orderbooks to allow for further backlog growth in the near-term,” he said. “Also, although the industry reported the highest monthly cancellations since August 2016, the rate of cancellations versus the orderboard remains well within acceptable limits.”

ACT Research is a leading publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasting services for the North American 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.

More information can be found at www.actresearch.net.

 

 

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Peterbilt delivers model 579EV to Werner for electric-powered truck pilot program

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Peterbilt has partnered with Werner Enterprises for their electric operations. The 579EV utilizes a TransPower Energy Storage Subsystem. (Courtesy: Peterbilt)

DENTON, Texas ­— Werner Enterprises has selected the Peterbilt Model 579EV for their battery electric-powered truck pilot program.

“Werner Enterprises has long been regarded as an industry pioneer, and Peterbilt is honored to partner with them and have our 579EV lead their electric operations,” said PACCAR Vice President and Peterbilt General Manager, Jason Skoog. “Peterbilt is leading the charge in electric vehicle development, with three applications for zero-emissions performance.”

The 579EV delivered to Werner utilizes a TransPower Energy Storage Subsystem with a total storage capacity of 352 kWh.  It is driven by a Meritor Blue-Horizon Mid-Ship Motor Drive Subsystem with up to 430 HP, features an estimated range of about 150 miles and a charging time as little as 1-hour when a fast-charging system is utilized.

Funding for the tractor was provided through the California Air Resource Board California Climate Investments (CCI) program, along with the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

“Werner is committed to finding alternative ways to keep our trucks environmentally-friendly while staying at the front edge of technology,” said Werner Enterprises President and Chief Executive Officer Derek Leathers. “Now, we’re excited about putting on some real-world miles with a dedicated customer in southern California over the next year.”

Pricing and option availability for 579EVs will be available on the Peterbilt’s SmartSpec sales tool in the second half of 2020.

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FTR, ACT report significant decline in trailer orders for December

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Ftr, act report significant decline in trailer orders for december
FTR Transportation Intelligence reports that trailer orders for December were the lowest since August at 16,500 units. ACT Research indicates that trailer manufacturers booked 17,200 net orders last month. (Courtesy: Great Dane)

Both FTR Transportation Intelligence and ACT Research report that trailer order saw a decline in December 2019 from both the previous month as well as December of the previous year.

FTR states that preliminary trailer orders for December were the lowest since August at 16,500 units. December trailer orders were -17% month over month and -41% year over year. Trailer orders for 2019 totaled 203,000 units. This decline is likely because fleets are displaying the same caution on trailers as they are showing in their Class 8 order activity.

ACT Research’s preliminary estimates for trailer sales also indicates a significant decline for December 2019 with trailer manufacturers booked 17,200 net orders to their orderboards last month, which is a 13% decline from November volume. Activity was 37% below last December. For the full year, the industry saw a 51% decline versus 2018 volume. That annual volume was the lowest since 2011.

Before accounting for cancellations, ACT found that new orders in December were 17,900 trailers, off 16% month-over-month and 39% below last year. Full-year new orders of just over 244,000 units were down 44% versus 2018. Final volume will be available later this month. This preliminary market estimate should be within +/- 3% of the final order tally.

“The year closed on a disappointing note, as fleets continue to maintain a very conservative stance toward 2020 capital investment,” said Frank Maly, director of CV transportation analysis and research at ACT Research. “Backlog declined in 11 months of 2019, with October being the only exception to that trend. The year-end orderboard sets a very soft foundation for OEMs for the new year, as OEMs seek to better balance their production volumes to their existing orderboards,”.

The large carriers are being careful with their ordering strategy by placing smaller orders with shorter lead times than is typical at the end of a calendar year, according to FTR.  A great deal of uncertainty exists at the start of 2020 due to a weaker manufacturing segment, the drag of tariffs, and a tumultuous political situation.  Buyer nervousness is expected to increase throughout the year due to the upcoming election and conflict in the Middle East.

Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles, commented, “Freight is forecast to grow only about 1% this year, putting little pressure on fleets to boost trailer capacity as they did the last few years. However, total freight levels remain elevated and trailer production for 2020, although down significantly from 2019’s record year, is forecast to be good from a historical perspective. Fleets are expected to continue to replace old trailers based on their standard trade-in cycles. Van trailers sales, spurred by strong consumer spending, are still doing better than the vocational segments.”

Trailer orders should stay in the 20,000 unit a month range for a while, as fleets continue to carefully match orders with short-term demand. Eventually, the manufacturing sector should recover, generating more orders for flatbed and dump trailers.”

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Optronics acquires USA Harness, becomes full-line lighting and harness supplier

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Optronics acquires usa harness, becomes full-line lighting and harness supplier
Optronics has acquired USA Harness to become one of few manufacturers and suppliers of comprehensive power delivery and lighting solutions for commercial vehicles. (courtesy Optronics International)

TULSA, Okla. — Optronics International, a manufacturer and supplier of heavy-duty LED vehicle lighting, announced it has completed its acquisition of Texas-based USA Harness, Inc. A supplier of trailer harnesses and electronic control systems, USA Harness serves the transportation industry with connection systems including the USA-PLUS Sealed Modular Wiring Harness and the patented USA-PLUS Modular Connection System. The USA-PLUS Modular Connection System has been tested and performed at three times the industry standard.

With the acquisition, Optronics is one of few manufacturers serving the light-, medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicle industry with both lighting and harness technologies.

“In less than a decade, Optronics has dramatically changed the competitive landscape in commercial vehicle lighting with its focus on technological innovation, broader options and greater value, and we’re about to do the same with harnesses,” Brett Johnson, president and CEO of Optronics International, said.

Optronics is a harness manufacturer on three continents. Coupled with this international experience, USA Harness will position Optronics to hit the ground running in North America.

“We have watched Optronics’ exponential growth over the years and have engineered more and more harness systems for use exclusively with their lighting,” said Debby Thompson, interim president of USA Harness. “Though we’ll continue to produce harness systems that interface with all major lighting manufacturers, we’re excited to now be able to offer a fully integrated modular power delivery and lighting solution.”

Optronics is committed to global manufacturing, and according to company officials, the acquisition of USA Harness increases the company’s supply-chain capabilities. “Just like the OEMs we serve, we’re going to manufacture harness and lighting systems wherever it makes the most sense,” Johnson said.

With their blended experience, Optronics and USA Harness will focus on selling integrated modular lighting and harness systems on a global basis. Targeted manufacturers include those making heavy-duty dry van, reefer, tank, car haul and flatbed trailers, as well as those making light- to medium-duty trailers. Heavy-duty truck and body manufacturers will also be a focus, as will heavy-duty off-highway vehicles, armored couriers and other specialized vocational equipment manufacturers.

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