The truck continues to be the backbone of freight transportation in Germany. Its volume in 2015 was 459 billion ton kilometers. This was about 73 percent of total volume in the country, including on roads, rails and waterways. With this share, Germany is about average for Europe. In comparison with 2014, traffic volume on roads has risen by 1.6 percent. The most recent transportation forecast from the Federal Transport Ministry assumes that by 2030, road transport will grow about another 29 percent over 2010 levels, to 607 billion ton kilometers. This will keep the current market share of the truck approximately stable.
The significance of the truck is largely due to its flexibility. Only the truck can reach every destination, from the loading dock to the household doorstep. It also has the economic and ecological advantage for transporting small loads and over short distances. Railroads reach their cost-effectiveness threshold for freight transport at payloads of over 300 tons. Combined transport using road and rail also makes sense only for distances of over 500 kilometers. Nearly 80 percent of freight volume on roadways, however, is on routes of 150 kilometers.
This results in a division of tasks between transport carriers: the truck is ideal for shipments of low volume and over short distances. Rail and inland waterways are more competitive for high-volume shipments and over great distances. A good example is the transport of a factory-new automobile. the German automotive industry uses rail as the main part of over 50 percent of its shipments. Freight carriers therefore compete less with each other than is often thought, due to their system-based advantages and disadvantages. Rather, they complement each other.