The trailer market in Western Europe grew by 11% in 2010, but given that the market fell by 52% in 2008 and 2009, it does not represent a spectacular recovery in demand, according to consulting group CLEAR.
However, it is calculated that production may have increased by 47%, as destocking turned into restocking and exports recovered on top of the extra domestic demand.
The improvement in trailer demand was very uneven across the 15 counties analyzed. Four countries, including France and Belgium, saw their trailer market continue to fall in 2010. Six countries, including the UK & Germany saw double digit percentage growth in 2010.
Looking forward, all countries have some growth forecast in 2011 with almost all seeing further growth in 2012.
The types of trailers that have done relatively badly 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, 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.
In 2009, the fleet size fell for the first time ever and will do so again in 2010. The effects of this will be quite profound. The level of 2008 will not be exceeded until 2015.
“It is quite possible that the 2007 level of trailer demand will not be exceeded in the next 10 years,” said Gary Beecroft, managing director of CLEAR. “Even in the long term, the total size of the West European trailer fleet will exhibit little growth.”
77% of goods in Europe are moved by road and most of that proportion is transported on a trailer pulled by a truck. The last severe downturn in the heavy goods trailer market was in 1993 – but 2009 was worse. In ’92-93, the demand for trailers fell by 31% or 37,000 trailers. In 2008-09, the fall was 51% or 107,000 trailers.