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Trailer Body Builder | FTR forecast: Flatbed to Pace Trailer Market in 2018

09.21.17 | Kevin Jones, Trailer Body Builder

North American Class 8 truck production will hit 300,000 units in 2018, a level seen only once in the past 10 years, according to the transportation equipment experts at FTR. In other forecasts presented at 2017 FTR Transportation Conference here this week, commercial vehicle trailer production will see a modest increase, paced by an improving flatbed market, while medium-duty truck production will mirror the U.S. economy, with slow but steady growth.

Indeed, as goes the economy, so goes trucking. In the freight market, spot trends indicate that more loads are being posted with fewer trucks competing for them, resulting in a 19% rate increase over last year, explained FTR Chairman and CEO Eric Starks.

“We are seeing noticeable rate pressure out there. We have not seen it moving into the contract rates, but I believe that we will see that very shortly,” Starks said - and that means carriers are in a better position to pay for things like drivers, and new equipment.

In the FTR analysis of manufacturer backlogs, virtually all production slots are filled for the third quarter this year.

“We have not seen that in long time. This suggests people are pushing for deliveries in the short term,” Starks said. “That is a very welcome sign.”

FTR puts third-quarter Class 8 production at 70,000 units before taking a seasonal dip to 65,000 units in the fourth quarter. For 2018, production climbs back to 70,000 units in the first quarter, then finishes the year with totals of 78,000 in Q2, 77,000 in Q3, and 75,000 in Q4.

“If you look at these numbers, we are not at levels we saw in 2014 - but we are still at healthy, healthy levels going forward,” Starks said.

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