The European trailer market fell by 6.3% and heavy truck demand fell by more than 9% in 2012, according to consulting group CLEAR in its latest Trailer Market Forecast Report for Western Europe.
Only Norway and Denmark had increased trailer demand. CLEAR has been forecasting a slowdown in 2012 for several years, so this has not come as a surprise. The worst performing markets were Italy, Portugal and Spain, which saw falls of between 20% and 40%.
What is more important is that the economic outlook for the next five years has been downgraded in every year and this will inevitably have an impact on long-term trailer demand.
GDP growth for the region is forecast at only 0.2% in 2013, but will average 1.5% in the three subsequent years when investment growth will average 3.2%. Therefore, there will be growth in trailer demand in the second half of 2013, followed by more solid growth through to 2016.
The report includes data on the demand for road transport in the Big 7 West European economies, which in 2011 languished at 11.6% below the level of 2006 (measured in tonne-km). The consequence of this fact is that a smaller trailer parc (fleet size) can meet the reduced demand for transport. Hence the parc will fall in four out of five years from 2009 to 2013.
Whenever there is a slowdown in trailer demand there is usually an even larger reduction in trailer production, which is estimated to have fallen by 11% in 2012. However, when the market turns around production has to catch up with demand and restock the distribution system, so the increase in output will be greater than that for sales.
The most likely scenario is that, after the hiatus of 2012 and the first half of 2013, we will be into a more stable period of trailer demand growth and parc renewal. From 2013 to 2016 trailer demand will grow in every country in almost every year.
Said Gary Beecroft of CLEAR, “By the third quarter, the worst of the current dip in trailer demand will be behind us, but a return to the trailer demand levels of 2007 and 2008 is unlikely in this decade.”