East European trailer market proving a mixed bag in 2012

A forecast report issued by the consultant CLEAR shows that heavy-trailer demand in Eastern Europe will fall by 11% in 2012 in contrast to 2011's growth of 58%. However, the picture is far from uniform, with some nations outperforming expectations and others stuck in the doldrums.

There are a variety of market drivers operating in the region. Clearly the sluggishness of the West European economy is affecting exports from the east. Some countries are suffering from the hangover arising from the 2009 recession. Others expanded so rapidly in the period from 2004 to 2008 that they have enough equipment to meet the demand for transport. Political instability is affecting consumer and business confidence in a few places.

Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovenia are forecast to have GDP (gross domestic product) growth well below the regional average over the five years to 2016 covered by the report. Of these countries, the Czech Republic will exhibit reasonable trailer market growth during the forecast period, having sunk to such a low level by 2010.

The outperforming nations in terms of GDP growth will be Russia and Turkey. These two countries will provide most of the growth and most of sales of trailers in the region. Poland and possibly Ukraine will be the other most significant sources of demand.

Even in some countries that are underperforming economically, trailer registrations are increasing due to demand for international transport to, from, and through the country — even if national transport demand is stagnating.

Gary Beecroft, managing director of CLEAR, said, “Despite the 2009 recession and the weakness of trailer demand in 2012, Eastern Europe is forecast to return to the pre-crisis level of demand seen in 2008. The size of the trailer parc (fleet) has increased every year since the 1990s.”

Many East European nations joined the European Union in 2004, which resulted in booming demand for trailers. In particular, semi-trailer demand rocketed as volumes of international transport increased, both within Eastern Europe and between East and West. From 2002 to 2007 the compound annual growth rate for trailer demand was 25.7%. Demand broke the 100,000-unit barrier in 2007 but fell to 40,000 in 2009.

The East European Trailer Market Report (October 2012), with forecasts to 2016, can be obtained from CLEAR by accessing www.clear.talktalk.net/.

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