Welcome to the WHAT THE TRUCK?!? Newsletter. In this issue, what new truck orders say about the market; Optimus returns; Tesla supply chain exec jumps to Rivian; and more.

If we’re in a freight recession, why do new truck orders keep going up?

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

A tell-tale heart — Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at The Carson Group, tweeted, “Heavy truck sales continue to increase. Before the past 7 recessions we saw this decline well before the recession started….Yet another clue a recession isn’t imminent like we keep hearing.” But, does the above chart tell the whole story of what’s actually happening in trucking?

“Yes it’s true — new truck orders continue at robust levels, while the freight market collapses — this shouldn’t happen.” — FreightWaves CEO and founder Craig Fuller

The whole story — Unlike previous cycles, a major factor driving new truck purchases is the fact that during the pandemic it was both difficult and expensive to buy new trucks (not to mention seat drivers.) In many cases, backlogs extended upwards of 18 months.

Alan Adler reports, “OEMs are burning off the backlog of orders they accepted during the fourth quarter of 2022. Those were the waning days of the pandemic and constriction from supply champion shortages. The backlog fell from 240,000 in December to about 190,000 at the end of May, Kenny Vieth, ACT Research president and senior researcher, told FreightWaves.”

Note to Mr. Detrick at The Carson Group: You may want to revise your meeting notes because that FRED chart isn’t telling the story you think it is.

Rise of the Beasts


Optimus returns in cabover and popcorn holding glory — The “Transformers” franchise pulled itself out of near-Michael Bay-induced extinction with 2018’s surprising “Bumblebee.” Bee brought the bots from Cybertron back down to Earth and now they look to continue that momentum with “Rise of the Beasts.” The film, which is wisely set in 1994, does away with the modern flame-covered Optimus and rightfully returns him to his cabover roots.

But that’s not why you should go see it. You should head over to an AMC theater to get this sick soft drink/popcorn-holding Optimus Prime replica (complete with smokestack straws!)

TWF2500 reports:

Only AMCs with showings tonight can sell it, otherwise they go up tomorrow at theaters.

Purchase in theaters gets popcorn and soda ($50.00).

It cannot be refilled if bought ahead of time (just got the tins but can’t get em filled tomorrow night).

The cab is a drink container which opens and the smokestacks are straws.

Trailer is aluminum.

So far, it’s not available online, only at theaters.

I, a grown ass man, want this.

— Daniel Pickett (@Pick3tt) June 8, 2023

While $50 may seem steep, I think AMC knows that the real buyer for this isn’t an 8-year old. It’s that 8-year-old’s dad using their son to launder this through … or is that just me?

“Rise of the Beasts” is now playing at an AMC near you.

EDIT: Some readers have already picked one up!

Glue-ton for punishment

Sky News

Stick around — Earlier this week, drivers in South Auckland, New Zealand, got a new appreciation for adhesives when a truck carrying 24 tons of carpet glue crashed on the SH1 motorway on-ramp. As gallons of the glue seeped from an MSC container, local officials worked desperately to cover drains in order to prevent the spill from seeping into the waterway. According to MSN, “Local police confirmed there were no injuries reported.”

Cybertruck supply chain manager jumps to Rivian


Stealing the steel guy — The long-awaited Cybertruck, which keeps seeing production pushed until “next year,” looks like it may almost be ready for market. In an April earnings call, Elon Musk said manufacturing will begin “sometime this summer.” But, now the Verge reports that they’ll be doing it without key supply chain executive El Akkari who is headed to Rivian.


“We made the mistake of going to Rivian once. Just once. Took 2 days to get unloaded. We had 4 pallets on. The most ridiculous situation I’ve ever seen. An owner-operator could feasibly go broke hauling into that place.” — Owner-operator Jamie Hagan

Rivian, which has been no stranger to supply issues (including a seat belt recall) could certainly use the help. A recent FreightCaviar poll listed it as one of the worst shippers to deliver to.

WTT Friday

Port of Boston connects the globe, battling back against fraud and liquor logistics — On Friday’s episode of WHAT THE TRUCK?!?, I’m talking to Port of Boston’s Lauren Gleason about Conley Terminals’ expanded global connectivity. We’ll find out how this New England shipping hub has grown from seven calls pre-pandemic to over 30 ports now. 

Highway’s Jordan Graft shares his founder story and talks about how his firm is doubling down on battling back against fraud and double brokering.

A. Duie Pyle’s John Luciani talks about the art of transporting beer and liquor. We’ll learn how the company earned the Brewers Supply Group Carrier Award, what’s going on in the booze market and how to handle freight in this space.

Plus, news, weirdness and more. 

Catch new shows live at noon ET Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on FreightWavesTV, FreightWaves LinkedIn, Facebook or YouTube, or on demand by looking up WHAT THE TRUCK?!? on your favorite podcast player.

Now on demand

The fastest podcast in freight, bathroom bills and peak season slumps


Who’s stealing your freight, supply chain’s biggest spills and the logistics NASCAR race


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The post What new truck orders say about the freight recession appeared first on FreightWaves.

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