In the seven largest West European markets for heavy truck trailers, 2007 demand is forecast to be 17.4% higher at 173,000 trailers and semitrailers.
Order books are full for the first part of 2008. Although sales in 2008 and 2009 are forecast to exceed the previous record year, which was 2006, they are on a downward trend.
The principal factor in the growth is the economic cycle, which sees low growth in the first half of each decade and high growth in the second half. However, in this decade it seems the market has peaked rather early. One of the reasons is that the new EU countries admitted in 2004 have been sucking in used-vehicle imports at a high level. That means West European transport firms have been able to renew their vehicle fleets early.
In fact, it is claimed in some quarters that three-year-old vehicles belonging to large fleets have been replaced with new vehicles at next to no cost. That is because the large fleets use their buying power to negotiate low prices on new vehicles, while their remarketing arms are getting attractive prices for their used trucks and trailers.
There is an ever-growing demand for transport, and EU enlargement has stimulated this further. Recent attempts to introduce longer trucks in Europe that would have reduced the overall number of vehicles on the road received a serious setback when German politicians rejected their introduction, which could affect their adoption in the rest of Europe. With rail, air, and water transport unable to offer either a cost- or time-efficient alternative, there will be a need for more trucks and trailers on the road.
Germany, which has the largest border with new EU countries, has benefited most from this development. It produces half of the trailers made in the Western Europe and supplies most of the used and new trailers sold in the East. As a result, its exports have rocketed, resulting in a production level more than four times that of its nearest European rival, France.