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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Germans lead European trailer recovery

Aug 17, 2011
The German trailer industry is improving as it recovers from the recession. Output of trailers has been boosted by a triple increase in demand and looking to the future, many countries will see a growth of trailer production in 2012.

The German trailer industry is undergoing a very rapid revival in its fortunes. Output of trailers has been boosted by a triple increase in demand. Firstly, the German market itself has recovered from the nadir of 2009 in splendid style: sales of trailers will exceed the combined demand of France, the UK and Italy in 2011 as it did in 2010. Secondly, exports of trailers from Germany increased by 90% in 2010 as markets in both East and West Europe, with a very few exceptions, started to recover. Thirdly, stocks of finished trailers which had accumulated as the recession bit had been largely cleaned out, leaving the industry in a very lean condition. This meant that all new orders went straight into increased production.

The result is that more than half the trailers built in Western Europe will be made in Germany from 2011 to 2015. Nevertheless, the levels of trailer output seen in 2007/8 will not be repeated in this period, either in Germany or in other countries. In fact, it is possible those levels may never be witnessed again, having been triggered by a combination of financial exuberance and a rash of new countries in Eastern Europe joining the EU.

Almost all the countries in Western Europe will see an increase in trailer demand of more than 20% in 2011. Only Portugal is likely to see a fall in demand as its economy has effectively gone into reverse.  Looking forward, many countries will see further - though more muted - growth in 2012.

The types of trailers that have done relatively badly during the recession are curtain-side, box van and container chassis. Those types that had a less severe downturn were the refrigerated, tipper (dumper) and tanker/bulk trailers. Broadly speaking, less expensive ‘commodity’ type trailers had a difficult time whereas expensive specialised trailers saw smaller falls in demand. As usual in a slowdown, falls in the market for semi-trailers were much larger than those for centre-axle and drawbar trailers.

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