European trailers expected to decline

The market for new trailers in western Europe will fall slightly in 2012, despite the fact that demand started the year up on 2011 in some countries, according to consulting group CLEAR.

Even though sales of new trailers are at levels last seen in the 1990s, the economies of western Europe are not in good shape. The debt crisis is very much in the minds of both consumers and businesses. The situation in Greece remains unresolved, and the threat of contagion to Italy, Spain, and Portugal remains a concern.

The pattern of recovery from the 2009 recession is similar to previous recoveries, in that there were two years of growth (2010/11) followed by a year in which the economies failed to grow.

Different in this downturn is that the demand for transport (measured in tonne-km) has fallen. At the end of 2011, demand for road transport was 9% below the level of 2006. This is unprecedented — normally in a recession the demand for road transport has one year of zero or slightly negative growth, then goes back to growing at a steady 1% to 4%.

“When the demand for transport falls, then fewer trailers are required in each country,” said CLEAR's Gary Beecroft. “It takes some time for the number of trailers in the fleet to adjust to the right level. When economies start to grow again, the demand for transport will rise and the trailer fleet must be augmented to meet the new business environment.”

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