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COVID-19 to take toll on Eastern Europe trailer market: CLEAR

Sept. 24, 2020
The forecast is that registrations of new trailers will not match the 2007/8 record level until after 2024

At the beginning of 2020 a modest decline in trailer demand was forecast for Eastern Europe but the outlook quickly worsened as the covid-19 pandemic started to close down parts of the economy, according to CLEAR International’s September 2020 forecast for the East European Heavy Truck Trailer Market.

A reduction of new trailer registrations of 24.5% if now forecast for 2020, and that figure assumes that the second wave of the virus that is already in evidence is at least contained.

Trailer sales in 2018 were the third highest on record, only surpassed in 2007 and 2008. The forecast now is that registrations of new trailers will not match the 2007/8 level until after 2024 but will surpass the 2018 level in that year.

However, the short-term outlook is anything but positive, transportation consulting group CLEAR notes. Demand for both trailers and trucks has continued to plunge in 2020.  The East European trailer demand forecast for the five-year period from 2020 to 2024 has been reduced by 52,000 trailers with the largest markets of Turkey, Poland and Russia accounting for over 60% of that reduction. The largest fall in demand will occur in Poland—a country that was a model of stability in the 2009 Global Financial Crisis—Poland was the only country in Europe not to have a recession in that year.

Russia, the largest trailer market in Eastern Europe until 2010, suffered a 50% fall in demand between 2011 and 2015, but had an astonishing recovery in 2017/18 and is now the largest market once again.  Turkish demand reached a new low in 2019 but recovery has already begun, though it will remain in third place behind Poland until the end of the forecast period.

Whereas the demand for road transport (measured in tonne-km) in Western Europe has yet to recover to the levels that were typical before the 2009 recession, in Eastern Europe both domestic and international road transport demand has continued to grow every year. Every year that is until 2018 when growth stalled. Slowdowns in Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Poland and Hungary were enough to halt the growth which has been continuous since 2000. There was some growth in demand in 2019 but this was mostly due to international activity in Poland and Lithuania and it will not be sustained into 2020.

“Turkey will be the only country in Eastern Europe to see any growth in trailer demand in 2020 but it is recovering from a very low base,” Gary Beecroft, managing director of CLEAR International commented. “Russia will have the smallest decline in the region. Other countries will see falls of between 15% and 50%.”

The East European Trailer Market Report (September 2020), with forecasts to 2024, can be obtained by contacting CLEAR at +44 20 8892 8379.  A new report for the West European market was issued in June 2020.  A Global Trailer Database is also available and was updated in July 2020.