Automotive Industry and Markets

The situation for commercial vehicles, trailers, bodies and buses

Commercial vehicles come in all shapes and sizes, and offer solutions to every transportation task.

Heavy commercial vehicles

The largest markets for heavy commercial vehicles developed completely differently in 2015. In the USA, sales of medium and heavy commercial vehicles (MHCV) increased even more than the light vehicle market. With 449,500 new registrations of commercial vehicles over 6 tons, the market rose by almost 11 percent. In China, sales of heavy commercial vehicles were again deep in the red. With a drop of 24 percent, demand fell to just 751,000 units. The Indian commercial vehicle business shifted up a gear in 2015. The market for heavy commercial vehicles grew by a hefty 30 percent. Here, the expansion of the infrastructure that has been reinvigorated by the Modi government bore its first fruits. Sales volume was 280,400 heavy commercial vehicles. 

After the distorting effect of the introduction of Euro VI in 2013 and 2014, the Western European market for heavy commercial vehicles over 6 tons returned to normal channels in 2015. New registrations leapt by 14 percent to a solid 259,000 units, thus reaching the highest level since 2008.

After turnover of heavy commercial vehicles over 6 tons being stable in Germany in 2014, new registrations grew significantly in comparison in 2015. The 83,400 newly registered heavy commercial vehicles exceeded the previous year’s level by 5 percent. Demand grew stronger as the year progressed. Near the end of the first half of the year, new registrations were still down by almost 1 percent. This was primarily due to the fact that Euro V vehicles produced in 2013 were still allowed to be registered in 2014, and the pre-sale effect lasted well into 2014. This then faded out substantially in the second half of 2014. This meant that in the second half of 2015, a base effect with strong growth occurred – up 6 percent in the third quarter and 16 percent in the fourth.


The transporter market in Western Europe grew by double digits in 2015. New registrations of commercial vehicles up to 6 tons rose by 11 percent to 1.7 million units. Especially in southern Europe, fleets continued to be updated. In Spain, new registrations had particularly strong growth of 36 percent to 155,300 vehicles, with an additional boost from the PIMA Aire subsidy program. In France, the largest transport market in Western Europe, turnover grew by 2 percent to 380,300 units. At 15 percent, the United Kingdom booked strong growth and reached a new record level with 375,400 new transporter registrations. 

Turnover of light commercial vehicles in Germany in 2015 grew by 4 percent to 244,200 units, reaching a new turnover record. The market was driven in particular by strong growth in online business. This had already grown the year before to a share of around 10 percent of total German retail sales. This drives an increase in demand for CEP (courier, express and package) services , and therefore demand for transporters as well.


The Western European market for buses over 3.5 tons picked up speed significantly compared with the previous year, with double-digit growth (up 14 percent). In Germany, 6,137 new buses were registered (up 9 percent). Over 80 percent of registrations (5,139 units) were for buses over 8 tons. That equates to an increase of more than 8 percent. The liberalization of the long-distance bus market primarily gave a boost to demand in Germany. Growth in the still young industry continues and service routes are being expanded further. In Germany, buses carry over 5 billion passengers annually, covering about half of the volume of local public transport. Rising quality requirements for local public transport, as well as higher emissions and environmental standards, require the fleet to be updated on a continuous basis. This was evident last year in the new registrations in Western European countries as well. Markets for buses over 3.5 tons in the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and France all saw double-digit-growth as well.

Markets for trailers and bodies

German trailer and body manufacturers were also able to profit from the economic recovery in the EU and strong growth in commercial vehicle markets in the past year. Rising incoming orders especially affected production in the second half of 2015. Losses in Russia were compensated for by demand from the EU. Domestic Group II manufacturers increased turnover by a good 3 percent. In the German trailer market, a total of 280,000 new trailers were registered in 2015. With 4 percent growth, to 31,600 units, new registrations of semi-trailers grew slightly faster. 

Measured by sales, German trailer manufacturers can also look back at a successful year. For the first time since 2008, revenues exceeded the 10 billion euro mark again. In comparison with 2014, a solid 6 percent growth was booked, to 10.4 billion euros. This is a new record for these companies. Domestic sales grew by 3 percent to 5.2 billion euros, while export revenues rose 10 percent to just under 5.3 billion euros, exceeding domestic sales. This reflects the increasing internationalization and international competitiveness of German manufacturers of trailers and bodies, who often have niche specialties. With a gain of 20 percent to about 2.9 billion euros, sales in the eurozone had particularly strong growth. Revenues from other countries just reached the level of the previous year, at 2.4 billion euros. 

This enjoyable business performance by manufacturers of trailers and bodies also had a positive effect on the permanent employees of factories in German locations. Annual average employee count in 2015 was 32,800. This puts employment up 2 percent, or 500 employees, compared with the previous year.

Eckehart Rotter
Eckehart Rotter Head of Department Press

Tel: +49 30 897842-120 Fax: +49 30 897842-603
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