Published 17 Feb 2021
The Impact Of Corona On The Commercial Vehicle Market 2020
Corona Crisis Slowed Renewal Of European Fleets
The international markets for heavy-duty commercial vehicles over six tonnes have developed unevenly in the wake of the Corona Crisis 2020. Most markets recorded a double-digit percentage decline in sales. In Europe, the market shrank by more than a quarter. Not only because of Corona, in general, but many fleet operators also refrained from fleet renewal in 2020. The market for heavy commercial vehicles also declined in India, Brazil, and the USA. Worldwide, only China defied the crisis. In China, by far the largest truck market in the world, sales increased by more than a third. A government fleet renewal program, which ran until the end of 2020, was cited as the reason for this significant increase. This gave China a 52 percent share of the world truck market.
More Than One In Two Trucks Sold In China In 2020
China is by far the world's largest market not only for passenger cars but also for heavy commercial vehicles. Sales rose by more than a third to 1.78 million vehicles last year thanks to subsidies. Worldwide, on the other hand, the Corona crisis and the reluctance of haulers to buy caused a drop of probably around 2 percent to 3.4 million vehicles, according to a VDA spokesman. This means that more than every second truck worldwide were sold in China.
The European Market For Commercial Vehicles Remained In The Negative Range Even In The Summer
The industry was already in a downturn at the beginning of the pandemic, which was then followed by the Corona crisis. Between March and June, there was a significant slump as a result. There was a slight recovery on the European markets only in the second half of the year. In July, 204,109 new light and heavy commercial vehicles and buses were registered in the European Union (0.9 percent less than in the same month last year). However, this could not make up for the sharp decline in the year as a whole. Although there was stabilization in July, new registrations remained well below the previous year's result. Among the major Western European markets, the decline was sharpest in the United Kingdom (34 percent) and smallest in Italy (14 percent). In Germany (-25 percent) France (-24 percent) and Spain (-23 percent) sales fell by a similar amount. All regions were affected except Cyprus and Greece, which were the only EU Member States to record growth.
In August, the downward trend continued: the decline was again 18.1 percent. But three of the large markets achieved growth: Italy, Spain, and France.
The Commercial Vehicle Market Also Weakened In Autumn
Although the statistics published by the VDA (German Association of the Automotive Industry) on new registrations of commercial vehicles showed a slight improvement for the autumn, the cumulative figures for 2020 as a whole were strongly in negative territory.
In October 2020, a total of 36,345 new trucks were registered, which was an increase of 9 percent compared to October 2019. Over the year, however, this was a decline of 18 percent. Exports in this vehicle class were also below the comparable figure for the previous year.
Semi-trailer registrations continued to be at a very low level, down minus 26 percent over the year compared to the same period in 2019. Already in 2019, a minus 6 percent decline was recorded for this segment compared to 2018.
The Year 2021 Could Now Bring The Longed-For Recovery In Truck Sales
For 2021, the signs are largely pointing to recovery. VDA (German Association of the Automotive Industry) expects the situation on the commercial vehicle markets in most regions of the world to improve somewhat this year. The truck market in Europe is expected to grow by 15 percent to 312,000 vehicles. However, this will not compensate for the declines from last year, and the high levels from 2019 are still a long way off.
Overall, the global truck market is likely to shrink by 4 percent in 2021, VDA announced in Berlin. Excluding China, there is also the possibility that heavy commercial vehicles will increase by 19 percent worldwide, but in the People's Republic, the VDA expects a decline of 25 percent. This is because Beijing gave the market a big push last year with a government fleet renewal program.