As opposed to the powered commercial vehicle segment, which quickly embraced the concept of globalisation in the wake of World War II, trailer manufacturing has remained a highly regionalised business for the most part of the 20th century.
Even though the industry was, and still is, closely tied to the success of the truck market, the cost of shipping a ‘box on wheels’ was long considered uneconomical – especially given the trailer’s standing as a commodity item with a low cost margin and little added value.
Since the turn of the century, however, that perspective has slowly changed, with a handful of trailer manufacturing businesses now actively pursuing a globalisation strategy – some by sending a knocked down (CKD) kit abroad and assembling it locally, and some by investing into a local partnership and/ or production facility.
To do justice to that new reality, the Global Trailer team reached out to more than 100 OEMs globally over the course of Q3’16 to find out just how many commercial articulated trailers they had built between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2016, with a response rate of just under 50 per cent. DOWNLOAD THE RANKING HERE.
Leading the pack is Chinese corporation CIMC Vehicles, which is now producing locally in China, Australia, North America, Belgium, Poland as well as the UK. The only OEM currently able to compete with that vast footprint is Germany’s Schmitz Cargobull, which is present in Germany, Lithuania Russia, Spain and China.
Inspired by the industry’s dynamic duo, however, Turkey’s Tiran Group is quickly playing catch up. After acquiring German brand Kässbohrer and Dutch OEM Talson, the company is spreading rapidly in the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and has high hopes for the Russian market, where it opened a local factory in 2011.
More specialised OEMs are becoming increasingly globally minded, too: Tennessee-based tanker specialist, Heil Trailer, for example, is now also manufacturing in Thailand, for instance, while San Diego’s Hyundai Translead is building equipment out of Tijuana, Mexico (unfortunately Heil Trailer did not want to be part of the actual ranking, ed.).
Even though almost half of the 30 businesses in our ranking are based in the US, North American brands generally still seem unsure about the viability of going global, though. US powerhouse, Wabash National, for example, may be present in South America and Australia, but is not producing equipment outside the US just yet.
Great Dane, meanwhile, has shown interest in competing on the global stage when it entered into partnership with Chinese company Icebear in 2012, but has since not commented on the project – most likely because of the almost incomprehensively amount of small and medium-sized businesses fighting for market share in greater China.
Regionally, the size and scope of trailer manufacturing businesses can thus still vary largely: Producing some 4,000 units annually, Dubai-based Gorica, for example, is considered the largest OEM in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, but would hardly make the top 10 in North America in 2015, which MAC Trailer Manufacturing concluded with a total volume of around 4,900.
In comparison, Bhachu Industries, the largest OEM in the booming nation of Kenya, has produced some 1,200 units in 2015; and Pakistani powerhouse Autocom secured a national number-one spot with a volume of just 500. In Europe, meanwhile, Belgian company LAG has produced 1750 units between July 2015 and June 2016 by solely focusing on tankers, which are traditionally more complex and time-consuming to build.
As a result, the industry is still highly fragmented and almost impossible to map exhaustively. Global Trailer’s first global OEM ranking can therefore only serve as a guideline and a first step toward a more transparent trailer manufacturing industry.
If we were not able to obtain an official production number directly from the OEM, our source of choice, we consulted a range of industry sources to obtain an estimate. If the estimate (and/ or a number that was already in the public sphere) was backed by at least two matching sources, it also made the list. Build numbers cover the timeframe between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2016 unless stated otherwise.
Throughout the production process, it has come to Global Trailer’s attention that a portion of the data provided may contain truck bodies too, with German
OEM Krone the only brand to explicitly point to that fact. Global Trailer was not able to verify if any other figure was biased and thus decided to trust in the respective OEM as a source. Even though our list has been compiled with the utmost commitment to accuracy and professionalism, it is therefore still supplied without liability. It can thus only serve as a guideline and a first step toward a more transparent trailer manufacturing industry.