UK trailer market up 25 per cent, setting new record

West European trailer market grew 13.4 per cent in 2015, but this strong growth was eclipsed by even stronger demand in the UK where the market’s 25 per cent growth not only outperformed the European average by almost 100 per cent, but also set an all-time record figure.

A new analysis produced by Clear reports that in 2015 the trailer market got off to a strong start with registrations of new trailers up 14.8 per cent in the first half and by 11.9 per cent in the second. In short, the market was stronger than anticipated at the beginning of the year.

The reason is that several markets which have struggled since the GFC (global financial crisis) performed very strongly in 2015. Italy for example was up 72 per cent in the first half of the year and finished the year up by 60 per cent. Spain, where registrations in 2014 were half pre-crisis levels, started the year up 55 per cent and finished up 46 per cent.

UK and Netherlands have recovered strongest

According to the data, the UK and Netherlands have recovered strongest. The Netherlands finished 2015 up 22 per cent. Meanwhile the UK, which set a new record for trailer demand in 2014, smashed that record in 2015 after a 25 per cent increase making UK the second largest trailer market behind Germany. The fact that the UK’s figure increased so strongly and from a record-base, emphasises the significance of this market’s growth.

Spain, Netherlands, UK, Germany plus Denmark and France accounted for almost all the extra demand for trailers compared to 2014.

“What we are seeing in these markets is basically catch-up demand. In many European markets the demand for new trailers has been so far below the long term trend level for so many years that, as soon as haulage companies regain the confidence to invest in new assets, the floodgates are opened and two or three years of exceptional increases (measured in percentage terms) are possible”, Clear’s Gary Beecroft commented, adding a serious dose of caution to the otherwise very good news:

“Within the big 7 economies of Western Europe, all are forecast to have accelerating GDP growth and higher business investment. The Clear thesis is that this positive trend of economic development in 2015/16 will lead to a further increase in the trailer market in 2016. A cyclical slowdown is forecast in 2018.”

A more encouraging development is that the West European Trailer Parc (or fleet size) again exceeded the 2 million level in 2015, a figure seen only once before in 2008. It is anticipated that the parc will remain close to this level for the rest of this decade.

The recovery in parc numbers is initially surprising given that the demand for road transport (tonne-km) remains well below the 2007/8 level. However, it is trailers from 0-7 years old that do most of the transport work and it is these vehicles that have only been partially replaced since the 2009 crisis.

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