The uncertain economic outlook in Europe will hit sales of heavy trailers in 2012, according to UK consulting group CLEAR. “Demand for new trailers is now forecast to fall below the level of 2011,” says CLEAR managing director, Gary Beecroft. “As a consequence the sales figure for 2012 will be 10,000 trailers less than was forecast in May this year.”
Reportedly, there are two overriding factors driving this new forecast. The first is that business confidence is being undermined by Europe’s political instability. “Secondly, every economy in Europe is now forecast to have lower levels of business investment in 2012 than was forecast at the beginning of the summer,” Beecroft states in a press release. A third factor is that some transport companies cannot finance trailer purchases at reasonable levels of interest as banks see transport companies as high risk.
According to Beecroft, these factors will be enough to choke off what was a promising recovery. “Although there will only be a small fall in trailer demand, the forecast assumes that there will be no sovereign default on debt, other than that which we know about in Greece,” says Beecroft. “Should further problems emerge in Italy, Spain, Portugal or (less likely) Ireland, then all bets would be off and we could see falls in the trailer market of 10 per cent or more.”
Looking further forward, CLEAR remains optimistic for 2013/14. “Trailer demand has been well below the long-term trend level since 2009, “ says Beecroft. “Even with a good level of growth in 2013/14 we will only just get back to trend at the end of 2014.”
In the meantime a backlog of replacement demand is building. Because the level of new trailer sales is still low, the average fleet is both ageing and shrinking in size.