International commercial vehicle markets in 2016: China and Western Europe strong, North America and Brazil shrinking
The global market for heavy commercial vehicles expanded again in 2016. A total of 2.9 million trucks were sold worldwide. That was a rise of 6 percent compared with 2015. “The most successful markets were China and Western Europe, both with double-digit growth rates. By contrast business contracted significantly in the US and Brazil, as expected. This means that the global truck market again grew strongly in 2016, the year of the IAA Commercial Vehicles. The robust development in Western Europe is especially welcome – on a particularly important market for the German manufacturers. In 2017 the worldwide commercial vehicle market will at least equal last year’s level, and possibly slightly exceed it,” said Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA).
Roughly one third of all new heavy commercial vehicles around the world are sold in China. The market almost reached the 1 million mark in 2016, with sales climbing by 28 percent to 962,000 units. However, anticipatory buying had considerable impact on the figures. In China the new National V standard for exhaust emissions is currently being introduced. It largely corresponds to the European Euro V standard. The market recorded year-on-year rises of 72 percent in November and 38 percent in December. Following the pronounced fluctuations of preceding years, the Chinese commercial vehicle market may be expected to show moderate growth of 3 percent in 2017.
The Western European market for heavy commercial vehicles over 6 tonnes increased by 11 percent to 287,300 vehicles in the year just ended. That is the highest level since 2008. Recovery continued most strongly in the Southern European markets. The growth in sales was greatest in Italy (+51 percent). Double-digit increases also occurred in new registrations in France (+13 percent) and Spain (+10 percent). Despite the Brexit vote, registrations in the United Kingdom also rose by 6 percent to 46,800 units. However, the UK is expected to record lower sales in 2017. The growth expected in the rest of Western Europe will probably more or less compensate for this decrease.
As expected, the US truck market went sharply into reverse in 2016 after six years of growth. Sales were 11 percent down on the previous year’s volume, with 400,400 units sold. Over the current year the market may well record another loss, although less marked than that in 2016.
The Brazilian truck market again produced a very weak result last year. New registrations of heavy trucks shed 31 percent, falling to 47,000 vehicles. In 2015 the market had already shrunk to half its size. Wissmann stressed, “Brazil, a market that actually has great potential, is therefore still a cause for concern in the international truck business. It now remains to be seen whether the market will consolidate. Despite justified skepticism, if Brazil gets back on track this year, it could make big strides. That is shown by the volatility of the market that over the last ten years has always either increased or decreased at double-digit rates.”
In India, in spite of a weak end to the year, sales of heavy trucks over 7.5 tonnes finished 2016 with a 7 percent rise. The market achieved an overall volume of 298,600 units. This year it will probably expand by around 5 percent and thus top the 300,000 mark.