Trailer demand, though down 7.1% in the first half of 2013, will be up 12.6% in the second half and up 1.8% for the year overall, according to consulting group CLEAR.
Double-digit growth is forecast in all but two of the countries covered in the new report for 2014.
The figures for the trade in merchandised goods in the big seven countries show an upturn from the fourth quarter of 2012, and this will flow through to the demand for road transport, resulting in an improvement in most countries this year.
Since the last report of November 2012 the economic outlook for Western Europe has been downgraded. Although Belgium and Germany have already regained their pre-recession level of GDP, and France and the UK will do so in 2014, the Netherlands won’t get there until 2017 and Italy and Spain will take even longer. Even more importantly for trailer demand, the investment level in these seven largest economies will recover more slowly than the GDP figure. The UK and Germany will be the first countries to match their pre-recession investment levels, and that will not be until 2015.
Furthermore, demand for road transport in Western Europe, measure in tonne-km, has continued to fall into 2012. The average fall for the Big 7 economies is 16.6% since 2006. In simple terms this means fewer trailers are required in Europe now than seven years ago, which is why we see the trailer parc (fleet size) falling in almost every country.
The trailer parc continues to fall since the demand for new trailers is lower than the replacement level required to maintain the trailer fleet at its current size. This has never happened since the heavy-duty trailer was invented. The size of the parc has always increased every year, even through recessions and slowdowns.