Trailer production restarts with Q2 2020 demand expected to be 44% down


European countries to suffer GDP falls of up to 10% in 2020

CLEAR International has updated to its forecasts for the European Truck Trailer Market

Since the last report in February all West European countries have had their forecasts for 2020 economic growth downgraded again. All forecasts now show negative GDP growth of between -6% and -10% in 2020 with every country in recession during this year. The cause is an outbreak of the Coronavirus, which has led to the partial shutdown of all West European economies.

“In 2020 all countries will have investment growth levels even lower the falls in the GDP figures. Investment growth rates have been falling since 2017 or 2018. It is not surprising therefore that ten countries in Western Europe saw falls in trailer demand in 2019 and the remaining five posted only small gains,” explained Gary Beecroft, CLEAR International.

In 2020 however, the average fall in new trailer registrations will be 28% with some countries having falls of over 30%.

On the assumption that the virus is kept under control as seems to be the case at the end of May 2020, CLEAR envisages double digit growth of trailer demand in 2021. However, this 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.

“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 will be 31% and the fall in production will be similar. The trailer parc (fleet size) will suffer a fall in 2020 then grow very slowly in the three years that follow,” added Gary.

At the time of writing the Coronavirus outbreak is moderating in its effect on Western Europe, with the number of new infections and deaths declining. There have been modest steps towards reopening parts of the economy. The danger is that with no vaccine likely to be available before mid-2021 at the earliest, there could be second and third waves of infection, particularly after the summer.

The supply of automotive components from China/Asia to other parts of the world has already been affected. It will take some time to re-establish the logistical links for moving parts around globally. The imposition of some tariffs and duties on international trade in recent years has already had an impact on the level of import and export activity and business confidence.

“Reduced trade will lead to a reduction in the demand for road transport and hence reduced demand for new trailers. Both the value of international trade and the demand for road transport (measured in tonne-km) grew quite strongly in the 2016-18 period, but these activities appear to have stalled in some countries and regions in 2019, and will decline in 2020,” he concluded.