North American trucking companies ordered almost 50,000 big rigs in January, says a report by ACT Research. This is the highest number of orders in nearly 12 years, and more than twice the January 2016 level.
This buying frenzy is fueled by a number of factors, primarily the strong demand for freight transport and the expected cash influx from the recent tax changes. Additionally, what is being seen now is partially just a result of natural boom-and-bust cycles, as orders soared in 2014 and tanked in ’15 and ’16, helping to create the current need for trucks.
Also, a strong holiday season and stricter rules regarding how long drivers can stay on the road have contributed to the current shortfall of available trucks.
Shipping costs for last minute runs have recently risen as much as 30%. While the availability of additional trucks should help to moderate shipping costs, it will probably take a while.
Most of the trucks ordered in January won’t be delivered for six months or more, and once they are available, the question of who is going to drive them remains.
The industry is still struggling to provide the necessary drivers for the big rigs they currently have. Some trucking companies are trying to solve the problem by ordering easier-to-drive trucks, and others are providing free training.