For
the first time ever, Acea has released sales figures for Europe for the commercial
vehicle sector. They show that sales in 1999 were some 9.0% ahead of 1998 at
2,206,341 from 2,024,480. Within that figure, sales of light trucks (to 3.5t
GVW) were 8.6% up at 1,812,879 from 1,669,103, whilst the more important Medium/Heavy
Truck sector saw sales rise by 10.7% to 393,462 from 355,377.

Table1: Sales of light trucks
(up to 3.5 tonnes GVW) by country 1998 and 1999.

Country

Year
1999

%
Change

Year
1998

%
Share

%
Change

Volume
Change

France

374692

20.7

346310

20.7

8.2

28382

Spain

309016

17

254093

15.2

21.6

54923

United
Kingdom

235403

13

240875

14.4

-2.3

-5472

Germany

205423

11.3

191299

11.5

7.4

14124

Italy

196299

10.8

180055

10.8

9

16244

Portugal

126841

7

119762

7.2

5.9

7079

Netherlands

98669

5.4

96046

5.8

2.7

2623

Belgium

57536

3.2

49758

3

15.6

7778

Eire

33539

1.9

27048

1.6

24

6491

Denmark

32585

1.8

29055

1.7

12.1

3530

Sweden

27881

1.5

25950

1.6

7.4

1931

Norway

26724

1.5

28798

1.7

-7.2

-2074

Austria

24860

1.4

24817

1.5

0.2

43

Switzerland

21621

1.2

19705

1.2

9.7

1916

Greece

21267

1.2

16437

1

29.4

4830

Finland

16006

0.9

15406

0.9

3.9

600

Luxembourg

3107

0.2

2573

0.2

20.8

534

Totals

1,812,879

100

1,669,103

100

168.4

143482

France
is by far the most important market in Europe for light trucks and played a
reasonable part in the overall result. Sales in France were only just short
of the average market growth rate of 8.6%, finishing at 374,692 from 346,310,
a rise of 8.2%. The French light truck market has been rising, more or less
steadily, since the end of 1992 and now stands a chance of setting a new all-time
record if the sales momentum can be maintained throughout 2000, which we believe
will happen. Spain showed very strong growth in 1999, light truck sales jumping
by 21.6% to 309,016 from 254,093 whilst the UK in third place saw sales drop
by 2.3% to 235,403 from 240,875. Part of the UK decline was due to the run out
of the Ford Transit, which is the symbol of the white van in Britain.

Table2:
Sales of medium and heavy trucks (over 3.5 tonnes GVW) by country 1998 and 1999.

Country

Year 1999

% Change

Year 1998

% Share

% Change

Volume Change

Germany

118257

30.1

105548

29.7

12

12709

France

58813

14.9

52273

14.7

12.5

6540

United
Kingdom

56612

14.4

57497

16.2

-1.5

-885

Italy

39474

10

29918

8.4

31.9

9556

Spain

35661

9.1

30115

8.5

18.4

5546

Netherlands

17701

4.5

18662

5.3

-5.1

-961

Belgium

12857

3.3

11448

3.2

12.3

1409

Austria

9311

2.4

8523

2.4

9.2

788

Portugal

7591

1.9

6316

1.8

20.2

1275

Sweden

7416

1.9

5634

1.6

31.6

1782

Norway

6271

1.6

7475

2.1

-16.1

-1204

Denmark

6119

1.6

6513

1.8

-6

-394

Eire

5107

1.3

4358

1.2

17.2

749

Switzerland

4230

1.1

4168

1.2

1.5

62

Finland

3914

1

4092

1.2

-4.3

-178

Greece

2588

0.7

1510

0.4

71.4

1078

Luxembourg

1272

0.3

1063

0.3

19.7

209

Iceland

268

0.1

264

0.1

1.5

4

Totals

393462

100

355377

100

10.7

38085

The
Medium/Heavy Truck sector sees Germany with twice the market of the likes of
France and the UK. Germany often reflects the health of the European truck market
and it had been feared by many that 1999 would be a year of contraction in Germany.
But this proved not to be the case and the market showed quite a lot of life
from time to time throughout 1999, finishing the year 12.0% ahead at 118,257
from 105,548. From the figures issued by ACEA, which by and large reflect what
we would have expected in terms of growth on a country by country basis, it
would appear that the figures in the table also include buses as well as medium
and heavy trucks. Markets that saw sales fall in 1999 included the UK, Norway,
the Netherlands, Denmark and Finland. Switzerland probably also dropped in terms
of trucks alone. The overall expectation for 2000 would be for a softening in
demand and a slight overall decline, although some interesting new trucks have
recently arrived on the scene and could help stimulate the sector for a short
while longer.