Economic forces, consumer demand, seasonality, natural disasters and myriad other factors contribute to transport's cyclical market.
The charts below show the latest data on Class 8 truck orders, trailer orders, monthly tonnage and TL linehaul rates. We'll update this page frequently as new data is released.
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Truckload linehaul rates
The Truckload Linehaul Index from Cass measures per-mile linehaul rates. In the chart below, the baseline is 100, which represents conditions in 2005. Rates fluctuate as a result of supply, demand and balance (or a lack thereof) in the market, but they also include factors such as fuel prices and insurance costs.
Rates are trending upward on the spot market, an indication they'll follow suit in TL linehaul. In August, the index reached its highest reading of 2020, which Cass said indicates a turn in truckload pricing. Cass described the pricing picture as "bullish" and believes pricing has bottomed out and will rebound in the coming months.
Truckload linehaul index
FTR's trailer data covers orders for dry vans, refrigerated vans and flatbeds. Orders for trailers, like the Class 8 orders, signal confidence in the market and anticipation of strong business conditions.
Trailer orders have climbed since a significant dip in April that was due, in part, to pandemic-induced shutdowns. They reached 28,700 units in August, the highest level since October 2019 and a 174% increase YoY. "Dry van orders were particularly robust," FTR said in a news release.
Net U.S. trailer orders
Class 8 orders
Class 8 truck orders point to confidence in the market and the need to scale up capacity in anticipation of freight demand. Fleets buy trucks to replace the older models in their inventory, or to aid expansion.
Preliminary estimates of Class 8 orders surpassed 20,000 units in August, according to FTR — up 90% over August 2019, but far below the buying boom in 2017 and 2018. "The economy is briskly recovering and generating ample freight," said Don Ake, vice president commercial vehicles at FTR.
Class 8 net truck orders in North America
The American Trucking Associations has been tracking tonnage, calculating the index based on member surveys, since the 1970s. In the chart below, the baseline is 100, which represents conditions in 2015. Tonnage primarily reflects freight movement through contracts versus on the spot market.
The index in August was 107.5, down from 113.9 in July. ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said the drop suggests freight is uneven among trucking sectors. While fleets hauling for retailers generally saw strong volumes, those hauling heavier industrial products saw weaker volumes.