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Truck Trailer Trends: Embracing Innovation and Efficiency Among Fleets

Automotive | Aug, 2023

In today's ever-evolving landscape of transportation, the road to success for fleets is paved with innovation and efficiency. As the heartbeat of the supply chain, truck trailers play a pivotal role in ensuring goods reach their destinations seamlessly. The intersection of cutting-edge technology and forward-thinking strategies has ignited a revolution in the world of truck trailers, shaping the way fleets operate and thrive.

Thig blog embarks on a journey through the dynamic realm of truck trailer trends. From harnessing the power of connectivity to reimagining maintenance protocols, fleets are not only adapting to change but actively embracing it, setting the stage for a future where innovation propels efficiency and success to unprecedented heights. Over the years, truck trailers have evolved to become more efficient and versatile. Today, there are several types of truck trailers, each designed for a specific purpose.

According to a TechSci Research Report, “Global Truck Trailer Market- Global Industry Size, Share, Trends, Competition, Opportunity and Forecast, 2016-2026, Segmented By Application Type (Logistics, Construction, and Mining), By Truck Tonnage Capacity (Class1, Class2, Class3 Class4, Class5, Class6, Class7, and Class8), By Trailer Type (Flat Bed Trailer, Dry Vans, Refrigerated Trailers, Multi Car Trailers, Stretch Drop Deck Trailer, and Lowboy Trailer), By Vehicle Type (Light Duty, Heavy Duty, and Medium Duty), By Region and Competition, the market is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 6.18%, in terms of value over the next five years, on the back of continuously improving road infrastructure, long distance transportation and large number of construction activities taking place around the world.

Additionally, in August 2022, the average truck trailer price amounted to USD 8,791 per unit, with an increase of 17% against the previous month. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Producer Price Index by industry for truck trailer manufacturing was 355.256 in June 2023.

There exists a multitude of engaged participants within this domain, each possessing their favored original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), trailer technology, and connectivity solutions. More specifically, there are:

  • 1.2 million trucking companies (fleets)
  • 4.6 million operational trailers on the road
  • 3.5 million class 8 trucks hauling the trailers.

These 1.2 million groups of fleets are proprietors and operators of the mentioned machinery, with 97% of them managing less than 25 trailers. This high degree of market fragmentation poses obstacles to drive worldwide transformations within the market. Additionally, it presents difficulties for these providers in embracing novel strides in connectivity technology.

Compounding the issue of fragmented ownership groups is the fact that the average trailer spends about 75% of its time detached from trucks, which means it is unpowered and unconnected for most of its lifespan. Fleets are also burdened by technical debt incurred by outdated and non-standardized communication systems.

However, the scenario is undergoing transformation, and the existing condition of trailer connectivity can be described as inefficient. In the emerging era of self-driving trucks, electric automobiles, and constant 5G connectivity, there is no room for a technology that has maintained a relatively unaltered state for over seventy years. The connectivity scenario must undergo adaptation to align with the forthcoming requirements of the market. Fleet proprietors can view this shift in technology as a chance to broaden their influence and solidify their stance in the evolving market.

Top players such as, Wabash National Corporation, FleetPride, Inc., Great Dane LLC, Hyundai Translead, Utility Trailer Manufacturing Company, Felling Trailers, Inc., Merx Truck & Trailer, Pitts Trailers, SDC Trailer Ltd., Dennison Trailers, East Manufacturing, and others have predicted some trends and have engaged in mergers and acquisitions to keep up with those trends and the consumer demand.  


  • High Utilization of ECUs in Trailers

Environmental Control Units (ECUs) are becoming increasingly common in trailers, providing a range of benefits for fleet operators. Here are some of the ways ECUs are being used in trailers:

1. HVAC Solutions for Military and Emergency Response: ECUs are commonly used as HVAC solutions for the military as shelter cooling or electronics cooling. They are also used in pop-up medical shelters or mobile emergency response units. These ruggedized ECUs are designed to withstand extreme temperatures and conditions, making them ideal for use in harsh environments.

2. Temperature Control for Sensitive Cargo: ECUs can be used to provide temperature control for sensitive cargo, such as pharmaceuticals and food products. This guarantees that the freight maintains the necessary temperature during the entirety of the transportation journey, mitigating the potential for spoilage or harm.

3. Improved Energy Efficiency: ECUs can help improve energy efficiency by reducing the need for idling to maintain temperature control. This can result in significant fuel savings and lowered emissions.

4. Real-Time Monitoring and Diagnostics: ECUs can be equipped with sensors and telematics systems to provide real-time monitoring and diagnostics of trailer conditions. This enables fleet operators to identify and address issues before they become major problems, reducing downtime and maintenance costs.

5. Greater Connectivity: ECUs are also being used to improve connectivity between trailers   and the rest of the fleet. This includes the use of telematics systems to provide real-time tracking of trailers, efficient asset utilization, and improved inventory management.

As per TechSci Research analysis, a greater use of ECUs in trailers will define the future of truck and trailer connectivity. As the industry continues to evolve, ECUs are likely to become even more common in trailers, providing a range of benefits for fleet operators.

  • Greater Collaboration between OEMs

Collaboration between Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) is becoming increasingly important in the truck trailer industry. Here are some examples of how OEMs are collaborating to drive innovation and efficiency:

1. Close Cooperation Between Truck and Trailer Manufacturers: Trailer technology is making rapid progress, often involving direct collaboration between manufacturers of trucks and trailers. This collaboration enables manufacturers to develop integrated solutions that improve safety, efficiency, and performance.

2. Partnerships Between Fleets and OEMs: Fleets are partnering with OEMs to develop customized solutions that meet their specific needs. These partnerships enable fleets to provide input on how to spec out the truck and trailer to mitigate manufacturing errors.

3. Collaboration on Emerging Trends: OEMs are collaborating on emerging trends in the truck trailer industry, such as autonomous truck and trailer combos, electric tractor-trailers, and smart asset management tools. This collaboration enables manufacturers to develop integrated solutions that meet the changing needs of businesses.

According to analysis done by TechSci Research, smart trailers are making trucking more efficient, safer, and smarter. Advanced trailers are being developed to provide real-time tracking of trailers, efficient asset utilization, and improved inventory management. This requires collaboration between OEMs to develop integrated solutions that meet the needs of fleet operators.

Collaboration between OEMs is becoming increasingly important in the truck trailer industry. Direct collaboration between truck and trailer OEMs, partnerships between fleets and OEMs, and collaboration on emerging trends are driving innovation and efficiency in the industry. By working together, OEMs can develop integrated solutions that meet the changing needs of businesses and help fleet operators stay competitive in an evolving market.

  • Climbable Manufacturing and Installation

Manufacturing and installation are important considerations in the truck trailer industry. Here are how these factors are being addressed:

1. Efficient Manufacturing Processes: OEMs are implementing scalable manufacturing processes to meet the increasing demand for truck trailers. This includes the use of advanced automation and robotics to streamline production, reduce lead times, and improve overall efficiency.

2. Modular Design: Modular design is being adopted by OEMs to facilitate scalable manufacturing and installation. By designing trailers with standardized components and modules, manufacturers can easily scale production and customize trailers to meet specific customer requirements.

3. Lean Manufacturing Principles: Principles, such as just-in-time production and waste reduction, are being applied in the truck trailer industry. These principles help optimize manufacturing processes, minimize inventory, and improve overall efficiency.

4. Collaboration with Suppliers: OEMs are collaborating closely with suppliers to ensure a smooth and efficient supply chain. This collaboration includes sharing production forecasts, implementing vendor-managed inventory systems, and establishing long-term partnerships to support scalable manufacturing and installation.

As per TechSci Research analysis, digitalization is one of the mega-trends driving the truck and trailer market. Digitalization enables manufacturers to optimize production processes, improve supply chain management, and enhance overall efficiency.

In conclusion, accessible manufacturing and installation are crucial in the truck trailer industry to meet the increasing demand and ensure efficient production processes. By implementing efficient manufacturing processes, modular design, lean manufacturing principles, and collaborating with suppliers, OEMs can achieve scalability and improve overall efficiency. Embracing digitalization further enhances these efforts, enabling manufacturers to optimize production and supply chain management.

  • Autonomous Truck and Trailer Combos

Autonomous technology is revolutionizing the trucking industry, and trailers are no exception. The development of fully autonomous truck and trailer combos is gaining traction. These autonomous systems have the potential to improve safety, increase efficiency, and reduce operating costs.

As per TechSci Research analysis, autonomous driving is one of the four mega-trends that will drive the truck and trailer market over the next decade. The report also predicts that by 2030, up to 30% of all new trucks sold in Europe and the US will be highly automated or fully autonomous.

  • Electric Tractor-Trailers

As the world shifts towards sustainable transportation, electric tractor-trailers are gaining popularity. Electric trailers offer reduced emissions, lower operating costs, and quieter operation. With advancements in battery technology, electric trailers are becoming a viable option for long-haul transportation.

According to a report by TechSci Research, electric trucks and trailers are expected to account for 15% of the global market by 2030. The report also predicts that the total cost of ownership for electric trucks and trailers will be lower than diesel-powered vehicles by 2025.

  • Smart Asset Management Tools

To streamline delivery processes and enhance visibility throughout the supply chain, truck trailer manufacturers are incorporating smart asset management tools. These tools enable real-time tracking of trailers, efficient asset utilization, and improved inventory management.

According to a report by TechSci Research, digitalization is one of the four mega-trends that will drive the truck and trailer market over the next decade. The report predicts that by 2030, 80% of all latest trailers sold in Europe and the U.S. will be equipped with telematics systems.

  • Customized Trailer Sizes

To meet the changing needs of businesses, there is a growing demand for a larger variety of trailer sizes. Customized trailers allow companies to adapt to busy and unpredictable peaks in demand, ensuring efficient transportation and delivery.

According to a report by TechSci Research, customized trailer sizes is one of the major trends driving change in truck trailer manufacturing. The report also notes that trailer manufacturers are focusing on light weighing automations and durability to improve fuel efficiency and payload capacity.

  • Lingering Tech Adoption

Despite the ongoing technological advancements, there is a sense that trailers are lagging in terms of tech adoption. However, carriers remain interested in adopting new trailer technologies, with a focus on lightweighting, durability, and corrosion resistance.

According to the TechSci Research report, logistics is one of mega-trends that will drive the truck and trailer market over the next decade. The report notes that logistics companies are increasingly using data analytics and artificial intelligence to optimize their operations.

The truck trailer industry is experiencing significant changes driven by technological advancements and the need for increased efficiency and sustainability. Autonomous truck and trailer combos, electric tractor-trailers, smart asset management tools, customized trailer sizes, and logistics optimization are some of the key trends shaping the industry. Embracing these trends will help truck trailer manufacturers and fleet operators stay competitive in an evolving market.


Fleet managers and leaders must consistently remain informed about the trajectory of the sector, encompassing available equipment and technology as well as their maintenance. However, this task has been challenging due to the whirlwind of alterations, innovations, disruptions, and supply shortages observed over recent years.

"It's undoubtedly a highly dynamic market that we are presently navigating," commented Nick Clinkenbeard, the product manager responsible for dry and refrigerated vans at Wabash, a trailer manufacturing company.

Since the onset of spring in 2020, the acquisition of trucks, trailers, and tires has grown increasingly challenging. Scarce availability of raw materials and components, including semiconductors, coupled with pandemic-related plant shutdowns, contributed to accumulating backlogs and trucks awaiting repair parts.

In the foreseeable future, manufacturers might experience a modicum of relief. Yet, what about the broader heavy-duty trucking sector? One method to better anticipate the industry's direction is to scrutinize the overall economy. Inflation remained at historically prominent levels until recently, culminating in the Federal Reserve's sixth consecutive increase, raising interest rates to 4% in November.

All in all, a fleet that adheres to routine maintenance as per the original equipment manufacturers (OEM) recommendations will avert unforeseen downtimes, ensuring continuous truck operations and revenue generation.

Navistar, Inc., a prominent player in the truck and transportation services sector, enjoyed a robust performance throughout 2022. The company anticipates this positive trajectory to persist in 2023, even as it manages through various challenges stemming from component shortages and production hurdles. Chet Ciesielski, the Vice President of the on-highway heavy-duty truck business, made these observations.

Offering some respite to customers, the International S13 Integrated Powertrain, a leading manufacturer of medium-duty, heavy-duty, and severe-service trucks, will introduce the latest addition to the International LT Series. The forthcoming S13 model is projected to yield a 15% enhancement in fuel efficiency compared to its predecessor equipped with the first-generation International A26 engine. Mathias Carlbaum, the CEO, emphasized that this will mark the ultimate new internal combustion engine developed by International.

Ciesielski further suggested that the utilization of OnCommand Connection's connected vehicle solutions could enhance maintenance efficiency. These multifaceted features contribute to streamlining maintenance processes (Advanced Predictive Maintenance), curbing unforeseen repairs (Fleet Health Monitoring), and enhancing the effectiveness of service events (International 360).

Eric Hruby, the director of PacLease, also observed a notable surge in the adoption of integrated powertrains and automated manual transmissions. These advancements are highly sought after due to their positive impact on driver retention and fuel efficiency gains.

"Over the past 18-24 months, PacLease has noted an adoption rate exceeding 80% for integrated powertrains and automated manual transmissions among our longhaul clientele," Hruby remarked.

While there is a growing emphasis on efficiency, the uptime factor remains a priority.

"When addressing the prevailing trend among our customers within the contemporary lease and rental sector, it's evident that optimizing uptime is a shared objective," noted Hruby.

PacLease clientele have benefited from telematics and other intelligent solutions in maintaining uptime. These technologies furnish them with capabilities such as remote diagnostics, over-the-air updates, and service management portals, enabling real-time monitoring of truck performance and well-being.

Regarding trailers, findings from the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) indicated a noticeable shift in the average trade cycle. This transitioned from 12.3 years in 2020 to 15.4 years in 2021, excluding flatbeds and intermodal chassis. However, the usability of these older trailers has its limits, and it is anticipated that 2023 might witness a substantial surge in fleet additions of latest trailers.

Consequently, this trend has translated into robust order volumes across the board. In 2021, trailer orders came close to 250,000 units. FTR Transportation Intelligence projected in October 2022 that this year would experience a surge to 303,000 trailer orders, followed by a 7% rise to 325,000 the following year.

Recent months have seen improvements in delivery for Wabash, as noted by Clinkenbeard, and the company's impressive Q3 revenue of USD 655.2 million attests to this progress.

The newly introduced trailers demonstrate significantly enhanced intelligence compared to their predecessors, which, being 15 or more years old, would predate the era of smartphones. Fleet operators can now capitalize on the expanded trailer connectivity by selecting cargo sensors and trailer telematics devices as part of their order specifications.

“In our interactions with customers, the data analytics segment has witnessed a remarkable surge in expansion throughout recent years. Undoubtedly, there is a noticeable increase in engagement within this realm," expressed Clinkenbeard.” The forthcoming path entails heightened interconnectivity of assets and enhanced monitoring of their performance. This facilitates proactive maintenance planning, mitigating the need for costly and disruptive roadside interventions."

Hyundai Translead also harbors an optimistic view for 2023, citing "pent-up demand" as the driving factor. The company also aligns with the notion that intelligent trailers represent the inevitable trajectory moving forward.

The integration of novel technology is consistently becoming more widespread. There are consistent upward trends across the sector in various aspects that contribute to diminishing maintenance needs, augmenting fuel efficiency, or furnishing valuable operational data to customers," remarked Sean Kenney, the Chief Sales Officer at Hyundai Translead. Additionally, the GPS utilization has achieved universal adoption, and accompanying accessories like cargo sensors, door sensors, and solar panels have increasingly become routine features over the past couple of years.

From a fleet perspective, the essential infrastructure must be established to effectively employ recent technologies, and the adaptability of existing TMS software to manage the novel systems or environments must be taken into consideration," clarified Kenney. Consequently, it is anticipated that these emerging technologies will soon find application within the truck and trailer industry.

While optimistic forecasts have been outlined, David Giesen, the VP of Sales at Stoughton Trailers, cautioned that shortages from component manufacturers might persist for some years.

Similarly, East Manufacturing, as affirmed by Chris Cooler, the VP of Sales and Marketing, has observed extended lead times. Nonetheless, this circumstance has had minimal impact on customers.

"We have encountered a few isolated cases where raw materials were not timely delivered, resulting in a small number of trailers being red tagged; however, our strong affiliations with vendor partners have significantly minimized the occurrence of such situations." Cooler explained.

Since the onset of the pandemic, East has implemented strategies to secure an adequate workforce for trailer assembly. These encompass escalated labor rates, enticing sign-on bonuses, referral incentives, a multitude of employee recognition occasions, adjusted pricing approaches, allocations, and various other initiatives.

Like the industry trend, there has been a substantial increase in the adoption of TPMS and ATIS over the past few years. However, the company anticipates a significant surge in the adoption of trailer telematics and other intelligent trailer technologies in the forthcoming years.


Overall, one thing becomes abundantly clear: the path forward is illuminated by the beacon of progress. The truck trailer market is experiencing trends towards new logistics, electrification/alternative drives, autonomous trucks, and digitalization. However, economic conditions, fuel prices, regulations, and technological advancements pose restraints and challenges. Regulatory changes, sustainability initiatives, technological innovations, and the growing demand for efficient transportation are the key drivers shaping the truck trailer market.

The road ahead is rich with potential, where the future innovations and developments might lead fleets to new horizons of success.