It was a big year for trailers—the biggest in years. The Top-25+ truck trailer manufacturers built more than 366,000 trailers in 2018. This is 51,000 more than the same group of 25-plus builders completed in 2017.
Almost all trailer manufacturers that build more than a thousand trailers a year benefited from the unusually good year. Only two of the 25+ builders listed here built fewer trailers in 2018, and they were down by only 3 and 4%.
The 2018 total continues a trend of peak-level production, topping 300,000 units for the fourth consecutive year. The total also surpassed 360,000 units for the first time in the survey, which originated with a report on trailer production for 1993. (See Page 36 for a 25th anniversary retrospective look at the annual production count.)
While responding companies have changed over the years, joining or dropping out of the list, 23 have appeared in each of the last five upward-trending reports. Notable OEMs missing this year include Heil Trailer and Polar Tank, now part of EnTrans International, and key additions are Fruehauf de Mexico and Premier Trailer Mfg.
However, the total count and individual ranking of manufacturers are somewhat skewed by unusually high container chassis numbers. The 25+ manufacturers reported chassis production at 15% of total trailers in 2018, up from 10% in 2017.
The 25+ builders listed here actually built over 314,000 complete trailers in 2018 plus approximately 52,000 incomplete trailers (container chassis). In 2017, these same 25+ built 282,000 complete trailers plus 33,000 chassis.
With or without the chassis numbers, it was still a fantastic year for trailers, calling into question the supposedly cyclic nature of the trailer industry. Production was limited only by the cost and availability of materials and components, according to our manufacturer survey.