Market analysis of heavy-duty commercial trailers in Europe

Published: 2018.09.24

Benjamin Sharpe and Felipe Rodríguez

Heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) are currently responsible for about one-fourth of fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector in the European Union. Within the HDV sector in the EU, tractor-trailers represent the largest share of CO2, accounting for roughly 70% of emissions. This paper analyzes the market for new commercial trailers in the European Union in terms of sales by country, manufacturer, and trailer type, and a reviews the current deployment of fuel-saving technologies in the fleet.

In 2016, about 188,000 semi-trailers were sold in the EU, roughly double sales in 2010. Germany, with 18% of total sales, is the largest sales market in the EU. It is also by far the largest manufacturing market with 54% of total production in 2016.

Schmitz Cargobull is the largest semi-trailer manufacturer with sales of approximately 55,000 trailers in 2016, or 26% of the market. Krone is the next largest trailer manufacturer, with sales of about 34,500 units in 2016. Together, these two companies account for more than 40% of trailer production in the EU.

Curtainsides are by far the most popular configuration and in 2016 represented 43% of sales, which is nearly triple the market share of the second most common trailer type, refrigerated vans (15%). In 2016, tippers and dry vans made up 12.5% and 10% of sales, respectively. Container chassis, tankers, and other types of trailers each accounted for less than 10% of the market.

There are several fuel-saving technologies for trailers that have emerged over the past decade. The most common technologies include aerodynamic devices, such as trailer side skirts, and technologies to reduce rolling resistance, such as improved tire designs and inflation management systems. The adoption of trailer efficiency technologies has been more limited in Europe than in the United States and Canada. However, up to 12% fuel savings are possible by the 2030 timeframe with the application of trailer aerodynamic, tire, and weight reduction technologies.

Related Publication: Trailer CO2 Certification in the European Union