The European truck sector is set for a challenging year in 2014 as it faces a continuing weak economic background in Europe combined with market 'payback' following a recent lift to sales stimulated by the arrival of Euro VI emissions regulations and more expensive trucks.

LMC Automotive analyst Zita Zigan told an industry conference in London this week that the European (EU27+2) truck market (over 6 tonnes Gross Vehicle Weight) in Europe is projected to fall back in 2014 by 3.5% to 263,000 units. “The European truck market has been lifted somewhat over the past year as many operators have chosen to bring forward purchases ahead of Euro VI,” she said. “The price difference for Euro VI compliant trucks versus Euro V can be in the region of EUR12,000 per vehicle, a pretty significant sum.”

Zigan said that an estimated 20,000 units of sales in Europe were pulled forward in 2013 as operators sought to buy cheaper trucks ahead of Euro VI. “That means that we will face a particularly lean market in the first part of 2014,” she said. 

However, she also believes that the outlook for 2015 could be much more positive.

“We could see a significant rebound to the market in 2015 as industrial production comes back. A lot depends on how the European economy looks, but if activity picks up as forecast, investment in road freight equipment could be an early beneficiary. There will also be a degree of pent-up demand for trucks after the exceptionally low markets of recent years and the effects being increasingly felt of an ageing European truck fleet.

"But it's certainly looking like a long haul to get back to where the European truck market was pre-crisis. In fact, our projections show a 13-year recovery period to 2020. That makes this quite comfortably the longest truck market recovery in Europe in living memory.”