East European demand for heavy truck-trailers smashed through the 100,000 units barrier in 2007. In six countries, the market increased by more than 33%.
Chief beneficiaries of this boom were the German firms of Schmitz, Krone and Kögel, plus Austria's Schwarzmüller, Europe's four largest trailer manufacturers.
Many logistics operators have set up shop in Eastern Europe to take advantage of the lower cost base. However, for international transport, they need modern haulage equipment, including the latest trailer technology. The figures above show only registrations of brand new trailers - there is also a market for imported used trailers from Western Europe, which in some East European countries is almost as large as the new vehicle market.
The largest markets in order of size are Poland, Russia and Turkey, with these three accounting for 61% of the regions demand. Poland has witnessed the highest rate of growth. The markets in Russia and Poland are now as large as the biggest West European markets, with the exception of Germany.
It is assumed that a slowdown in Western European economies after 2010 will result in a slight fall in Eastern Europe at the same time. However, this will only be a temporary hiatus, and the eastern markets will be setting new records for vehicle demand before the middle of the next decade.
"These markets will grow for a very long time,” says Gary Beecroft, director of consulting group CLEAR. “It took Spain 15-20 years to reach the level of trailer utilization seen in the rest of the EU when it joined. However, the future growth of East European trailer demand will be relatively modest compared to that seen from 2000 to 2007."
The growth in Eastern Europe resulted in a shortage of trailer axles in the West in 2007.