European CV Manufacturers Cautiously Optimistic

European commercial vehicle manufacturers are cautiously optimistic about production and sales in 2010 and 2011.

“We will see better sales and earnings this year than in 2009,” said Leif Johansson, Chairman of the Commercial Vehicle Board of ACEA and President and CEO of Volvo Group. “The recovery in demand that we saw in Asia and South America at the end of last year is now becoming more and more visible also in Europe.”

In Europe, recovery from the deep crisis levels 2009 is slow, but the upturn seems relatively broad-based. Still, demand for commercial vehicles is closely linked to economic growth and demand for transport, and the overall economy remains fragile and vulnerable to external shocks.

Although the crisis hit hard, the European manufacturers have shown great resilience during the extraordinary economic downturn and successfully defended their global technology leadership in the fields of environment and safety. Despite sales volumes being cut by 50% to even 80% over the course of 2009, investments in R&D were to large extent sustained. All manufacturers are working hard to prepare themselves for the EURO VI emission standards coming into force soon and they have made further progress in the fields of fuel efficiency, alternative drivetrains, renewable fuels and energies.

“The crisis has certainly reinforced the need to put a comprehensive industrial policy and a supportive policy environment higher on the agenda of European policy makers,” said Johansson. “Europe has a strong R&D and manufacturing base – our commercial vehicle industry is a good example – and the EU institutions must make efforts to strengthen its industries in order to ensure future economic growth and prosperity.”

In the first quarter of 2010, European truck production reached 415,626 units, or 36.4% more than in the same period of 2009. The production of heavy-duty vehicles, however, decreased by 5.2% to 65,156 units. The manufacturing of vans increased by 51.3% to 343,628 units.

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