Global consultancy CLEAR International has updated its forecasts for the European truck trailer market to account for an improving outlook for economic growth.
In 2020 all countries in Western Europe had investment growth levels even more negative than the large falls in GDP. Investment growth rates have been falling since 2017-18. So it is not surprising, CLEAR notes, that ten countries in Western Europe saw falls in trailer demand in 2019 and all countries saw falls in 2020.
In 2020 the average fall in new trailer registrations was 19% with Belgium falling by 34%. (Average fall in 2009: 51%.)
On the assumption that further new waves of COVID-19 are kept under control, CLEAR now envisages 8% growth of trailer demand in 2021. However, this and further growth in 2022 will not be sufficient to recover the sales lost in 2020—"it will be several years before we see a return to the levels of trailer demand witnessed in 2018,” the report states.
Production of trailers was at the third highest level on record in 2018 (though well short of the 2007 figure). Therefore, pre‑covid 19, the industry was achieving both high levels of output and stability. The total fall in registrations from 2018 to 2020 was 23% and the fall in production was 28%.
The trailer parc (fleet size) grew by only 0.2% in 2020 and will grow “very slowly” in the two years that follow.
At the time the report was being compiled, the coronavirus outbreak was slowing in terms of infections, hospitalizations and deaths in most of Western Europe, the report notes.
Still, the recovery in trailer demand in 2021 will be slower than was envisaged four months ago. This is due to a slower economic recovery in 2021 largely due to the lockdowns in place in January to March 2020. The forecast for 2022 registrations will not change to any substantial degree. Any sales lost in 2021 will be made up in 2022, according tohe CLEAR analysis.
The forecast period from 2021 to 2025 will be a period of declining replacement demand for trailers as a result of low registrations in the 2009 to 2014 period. Therefore, the forecast growth in trailer demand will call for significant levels of investment in new trailers over and above the replacement level, CLEAR concludes.
The West European Trailer Market Report (March 2021), with forecasts to 2025, can be obtained from contacting CLEAR International. A new report for the East European market was issued in October 2020. A Global Trailer Market Database is also available.
CLEAR International is a consulting group working with companies active in automotive and transport markets.