The transportation equipment supply chain remains clogged following the 2020 stresses and production closures from the pandemic. In 2021, orders are still constrained, and most OEMs have few open build slots available. Notably, class 8 vehicle production has stalled in large part from the semiconductor chip shortage, which some sources estimate could continue until 2023. Equipment producers are also facing delays and high prices for other source materials and components like rubber, steel, aluminum, tires, suspension parts, and wiring harnesses. Based on cost volatility for raw materials and components, many OEMs are struggling to set stable prices or determine how many build slots will be available in 2022 for both tractors and trailers. Manufacturing labor shortages, along with a lack of both port workers and shipping containers for imports, are further compounding delays. The shortages and delivery bottlenecks, exacerbated by overwhelmed transportation networks and labor shortages, are expected to extend well into the fall.
Many new equipment orders will most likely not be filled in 2021 due to pre-existing back orders. Heavy-duty trucks builds have shifted between 18,000 and 29,000 a month this year because of the unreliable supply chain—and parts supply availability will continue to limit capacity, according to FTR Transportation Intelligence. Many OEMs have large inventories of incomplete equipment parked and awaiting final parts, like semiconductors, that are currently unavailable.
As producers open 2022 build slots, FTR Transportation Intelligence anticipates record order numbers due to production lag time, pent-up demand, and a general truck shortage. In August 2021, order activity was up 91 percent year-over-year and up more than 50 percent over July. Class 8 orders now total 456,000 units for the previous 12 months. Used tractors are also in high demand, but inventories are low. As a result, the cost of a used class 8 truck is up significantly year-over-year; the average price for a used class 8 unit in July was $59,377 compared to $40,666 a year earlier. Trailers are also in short supply, causing significant cost increases. Long lead times and high prices for trailers of all types are expected at least through 2022.