The long-term trend level of trailer demand in Western Europe is about 175,000 units per annum, halfway back to a healthy market from the nadir of 2009, according to consulting group CLEAR.
The latest forecast from CLEAR suggests that the market will match the 2009 level of demand in mid-2013.
The trailer market in Western Europe grew by 10.6% in 2010, which would normally be considered a good result. However, given that the market fell by 52% in 2008-09, it does not represent a spectacular recovery in demand. However, it is calculated that production increased by 47%, as destocking turned into restocking and exports recovered on top of the extra domestic demand.
The improvement in trailer demand in 2010 was very uneven across the 15 counties analysed. Four countries, including France and Belgium, saw their trailer market continue to fall. Six countries, including the UK and Germany, saw double-digit percentage growth in 2010.
Looking forward, all countries have some growth forecast in 2011, with many seeing further growth in 2012.
The types of trailers that have done poorly during the recession are curtain-side, box van and container chassis. Those types that had a less severe downturn were the refrigerated, tipper (dumper) and tanker/bulk trailers. Broadly speaking then, less expensive “commodity” type trailers had a difficult time whereas expensive specialized trailers saw smaller falls in demand. As usual in a slowdown, falls in the market for semi-trailers were much larger than those for center-axle and drawbar trailers.
“It is quite possible that the 2007 level of trailer demand will not be exceeded in the next ten years,” Gary Beecroft, managing director of CLEAR said. “Even in the long term, the total size of the West European trailer fleet will exhibit little growth.”