An upturn in the European trailer market will have to wait until 2004, according to the first European forecast for commercial trailers produced by G Beecroft/CLEAR, a research company in Twickenham, United Kingdom.
“Many companies in the market expect a leveling off this year, but I think they are too optimistic,” said Gary Beecroft, director. “Most European markets are looking at the lowest GDP growth rates they have seen since 1993. To compound the problem, replacement demand is weak due to the low level of new trailers registered 10 years ago.”
The seven principal markets in Europe require well over 100,000 new trailer units per annum. The years 1998 to 2001 were particularly strong, with demand running at or over 130,000 units. Now the market is suffering its third year of decline.
“Trailer markets have changed drastically since the 1990s, when they were essentially national in character,” Beecroft said. “Trailers tended to be bought locally, but there is now significant import/export trade, alongside international manufacturing groups. In particular, the German groups — Schmitz, Krone, and Kögel — have expanded their sales operations to both the east and west.”
The trailer market is one of the most volatile, with swings of ±20% not uncommon. However, with the increase in the size of the transport market, dominated by road transport, this will be less of a problem in the future.