The South Africa truck and trailer market certainly has its own set of challenges which impact on sales but so too does Europe. It is thus we always find it interesting hearing from CLEAR International, a consulting group working with companies active in automotive and transport markets, on how the trailer market in West Europe is faring and what the influences on sales are.
CLEAR has just issued its November 2023 forecast for the West European Heavy Trailer Market and since the report in May 2022, the war in Ukraine and the cost of energy plus general price inflation have replaced covid-19 as the principal threats to growth in trailer demand. Inflation rose to 10% but is now moderating. Interest rates however are still relatively high but not increasing.
Economic forecasts for countries in Western Europe have now slightly improved for 2023/24. As a result, the forecasts for trailer demand in 2023 and subsequent years have improved but again, only slightly. West European trailer demand remains somewhat insulated from the impact of the war in Ukraine compared to countries that are geographically close to the conflict.
Increased costs caused by high inflation and interest rates, combined with some continued problems with sourcing vehicle parts are making profitable manufacturing difficult. A European war, conflict in the Middle East plus a difficult economic situation cannot help but dent business confidence and reduce companies’ willingness to invest in new transport equipment.
CLEAR envisages a 9.6% fall in trailer demand in 2023. Subsequent growth in the forecast period will bring the sales level close to that of 2022 by 2025. The 2024-25 period is expected to be more positive in terms of both the West European economy and trailer registration growth. In fact, CLEAR believes that most published economic forecasts for 2024 are excessively pessimistic, with a stronger bounce back from very low 2023 GDP growth likely.
During 2023 the trailer market outlook for the UK, Italy and the Netherlands has improved based on the demand to September, whereas Denmark and Finland look weaker.
Gary Beecroft, managing director of CLEAR International comments: “Trailer market sales for 2023 will be in line with the forecast published in February. There will be some sales growth in both 2024 and 2025.”
77% of all goods in Europe are moved by road and most of that proportion is transported in a trailer.