Across the seven largest markets for Europe, there was a 13.2% increase in heavy goods vehicle trailer registrations in 2004 compared with the previous years, according to consulting group CLEAR.
Four of the seven countries, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy, recorded double-digit growth. Of the other three, the UK recorded the lowest growth, but with a record of unrivalled stability over the last few years, this is not an indication of a market in difficulty.
Likewise, Spain has been the fastest-growing market when measured over the last 20 years and can afford to take a breather. France is the market in most difficulty in Europe; General Trailer, France’s largest and Europe's fourth-largest manufacturer, was broken up into smaller units by an administrator last year, as a consequence of a shrinking domestic market and a simultaneous attack by Spanish and German exporters.
According to Gary Beecroft, Managing Director of CLEAR, "Relative to the Euro-zone economy, the market was overheated in 2004, and I would expect a slight fall in sales in 2005 before growth resumes. The long term outlook is positive, with both the economic cycle, structural effects such as the expansion of the EU, and replacement demand all boosting sales."