European trailer market stronger than expected

Following a surprisingly positive market development in the first half of 2017, UK research company, Clear International, has revised the forecast for the European trailer market by six percentage points.

“There has been a distinct improvement in the outlook for many, if not all, West European economies,” Clear International Director, Gary Beecroft, said in a statement.

“As a consequence, the forecast of a sharp slowdown in demand for trailers in the region during 2018 has moderated – but it has not disappeared.”

Instead of demand dropping by approximately 15 per cent in 2018, Beecroft said he is now expecting a decline in demand of only nine per cent – followed by a further small drop in 2019, leading to a total shrinking of the market by 13 per cent over the two years.

“For 2017, it is still expected that the demand for trailers will increase in the first half of the year, but decline slightly in the second half,” he said,

“Overall however, 2017 will now see a two per cent increase in registrations rather than a two per cent fall.”

Following the predicted decline in demand in 2018-19, Beecroft said there will be a return to growth in trailer sales in 2020/21. “Furthermore, as we move into the 2020s, it is likely that demand for commercial vehicles will follow an upward path, so that by mid-decade we will be approaching levels above those of 2017,” he said.

The outcome of these changes could be an additional 30,000 trailers added to the forecast total during the 2017-21 period, with roughly half of that total boosting the 2018 figure. 

Most of these extra trailers will reportedly be sold in the ‘Big 7’ countries of Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands and Belgium, with Italy performing particularly well after its slow recovery from the GFC of 2009.

The UK market, on the other hand, is already receding from the heady level of trailer demand seen in 2015/16 and as a result will have the unique distinction of shrinking every year from 2016 to 2019, Beecroft said.

Despite this trend, the UK will not fall below 20,000 trailers per annum which is above the typical level of the market before the GFC, he said.

“The Brexit effect, which has already dropped the UK investment forecast close to zero for the 2016-18 period, will result in uncertainty and low business confidence during the run up to the UK leaving the EU in 2019.

“However when – if – the Brexit terms have been settled there will be a resumption of trailer market growth.”

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