Figures released by ACEA show that the commercial vehicle market in the EU is expanding strongly this year. The buoyant figures will be sized upon by some as positive evidence of an improving economic situation in Europe, in spite of current concerns over sovereign debt, national austerity programmes and financial instability.

Demand for new commercial vehicles in the EU increased by 25.1% in May, compared to the same month last year. Spain was the only major market to record a downturn (-13.3%), while the UK (+17.2%), France (+32.2%) and Germany (+38.4%) all expanded.
From January to May, the EU recorded a total of 835,539 new commercial vehicle sales, or 15.8% more than over the same period a year ago. With the exception of Spain (-7.4%), all significant markets posted growth, from +12.4% in France to 26.3% in the UK and 28.2% in Germany.
In May, new van registrations (LCVs up to 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight) amounted to 146,350 units, or 21.5% more than in May 2010. While the Spanish market declined by 18.3%, the British (+17.3%), French (+28.4%) and German (+36.0%) were all up. Five months into the year, a total of 689,388 new vans was registered, or 11.3% more than in the first five months of last year. Spain saw the number of its new registrations decline (-12.8%), while France (+9.0%), Germany (+22.5%) and the UK (+26.7%) performed better than in the same period a year ago.

Strongly positive figures were also recorded in heavy trucks (over 16 tonnes GVW). Sales were up across the region in May by 63.1% to 21,463 units. The UK (+43.1%), Spain (+45.6%) and Germany (+48.7%) performed similarly, while France saw its market increase by a considerable 87.4%.
From January to May, 100,089 new heavy trucks were registered in the region (+62.2%). Growth prevailed across countries, except in Greece (-49.8%), ranging from 41.7% in Spain to 42.8% in the Netherlands, 50.4% in Germany, 67.7% in France and 71.6% in the UK.

While the gains in commercial vehicle markets are coming off a depleted base, they also show that the traditionally steep upswing in the commercial vehicle investment cycle is underway as operators look to replace vehicles following several years of delayed replacement when their capacity utilisation rates were down. Low finance costs will also be helping to lift the market.

See also: Qube Sector Intelligence Service: Heavy Trucks