The Economics of the trucking industry

In this section, we cover everything there is to know about the trucking industry in Europe.

Global truck manufacturing and the importance of EU truckmakers

Around 5 million heavy trucks were sold and produced in the world in 2014.

Europe’s leading truckmakers play an important role in global production. Daimler and Volvo also sell trucks in the US, South America and Asia. For example, combined Daimler (46%) and Volvo (8%) accounted for more than half of the US production.

Volvo has a joint venture with Chinese truckmaker Dongfeng which makes it a big player in China. In 2008 EU manufacturers and their partners accounted for 40% of all global production.

450.000 medium and heavy trucks were produced in Europe. Around 20% of these are medium heavy trucks (3.5 to 15 tons) but the vast majority (around 80%) of vehicles are heavy trucks (+15tons). The numbers for the EU market can be found on the website of ACEA – the federation of the automobile industry.

Trucks and light commercial vehicles sales in Europe

Trucks and light commercial vehicles sales in Europe

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Trucks sold worldwide in 2014
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Daimler + Volvo market share in the US
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EU marketshare worldwide in 2008
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Medium and Heavy trucks sold in Europe in 2015
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Heavy Duty Vehicles on EU roads in 2015
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( tonne-kilometres) of road freight in the EU per year
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(up to) is spent on fuel during a year
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Distance a typical tractor trailer truck drives per year

Where do trucks drive in Europe?

Of the EU’s 28 member states, most of the road freight is hauled in relatively few countries.

As shown in the graphics below, the seven countries together – Germany, Poland, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Italy, and the Netherlands – represent nearly three-quarters of the EU’s road freight transport in terms of total tonne-kilometres.

The remaining 21 member states are responsible for just 27% of the tonne-kilometres from road freight transport (European Commission 2015).

Size of truck manufacturing global

Around 5 million heavy trucks were sold and produced in the world in 2014. Europe’s leading truck makers play an important role in the global production. Daimler and Volvo also sell trucks in the US, South America and Asia. For example, combined Daimler (46%) and Volvo (8%) accounted for more than half of the US production. Volvo has a joint venture with Chinese truck maker Dongfeng which makes it a big player in China. In 2008 EU manufacturers and their partners accounted for 40% of all global production.

Biggest sales in the EU

Five companies account for 90% of all the truck sales in Europe. These five manufacturers are Daimler (Mercedes), Volkswagen (MAN and Scania), Volvo-Renault, DAF and IVECO (more information in the 2016 Pocketbook on European Vehicle Market Statistics from the ICCT).

These truck makers dominate the market for both engines and whole vehicles. Contrary to other truck markets such as the US – where companies like Cummins sell a lot of specific parts such as the engines – EU producers do not only manufacture the engine but also the vehicle.

EU manufacturers produce both the vehicles and the engines



How fuel efficiency is sold to truck buyers

Typically, a fleet manager or haulier will buy his trucks at one of the manufacturer’s dealerships. Here you can buy a vehicle that is equipped with the standard features but you can also choose a number of options to specify the vehicle according to your fleet’s needs. This applies to things like the size of the cabin (large & comfortable or standard) but also for fuel saving technologies.

For example, for the Mercedes-Benz Actros 1845 the dealer would offer you an “eco-pack” with lots of fuel and carbon saving features. The Mercedes eco pack includes things like ultra-efficient tires, tire pressure monitoring system, a very aerodynamic spoiler, a retarder and predictive cruise control.

However, buying this eco-pack would set you back €11.500. To get aluminium wheels – which are lighter – you’ll have to cough up another €2137.

Size of truck manufacturing in the EU

450.000 medium and heavy trucks have been produced in Europe. Around 20% of these are medium heavy trucks (3.5 to 15 tons) but the vast majority (around 80%) of vehicles are heavy trucks (+15 tons).

Germany (Daimler & MAN), Sweden (Volvo & Scania), France (Renault), Italy and Spain (IVECO), the Netherlands (DAF) and Belgium (DAF and Volvo) are some of the largest truck producing countries in Europe.

Truck sales have increased again after the economic downturn – 2009 was a very bad year – but are still below the pre-2008 production and sales levels. Recently truck sales have been on the rise: during the first semester of 2016 commercial vehicle registrations increased by 13% according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA). In this period there was a growth in all major markets such as Italy (+30.8%), Spain (+14.0%), France (+12.7%) and Germany (+10.4%).

Freight transported by trucks in the European Union

Three quarters of EU freight is transported over roads. When looking at inland freight transport, freight by road (74.9 %) was more than four times as high as the share transported by rail (18.2 %) while inland waterways accounted for 6.9 percent in 2013 (source).

When looking at road freight specifically 13 million heavy duty vehicles (HDVs) were on our roads in 2015. (source).

Annually around 1.7 trillion tonne-kilometres of freight are moved by road per year in the EU and it is expected that this number will raise during the coming years. Most of this freight is domestic freight, meaning that the shipment start and ends within the borders of the same country. Around two-thirds of road freight is domestic while the other one-third is international road freight (source).

How much does running a truck cost for a year?

A typical tractor trailer truck drives around 130.000km per year.

Assuming new vehicles consume around 33l/100km and diesel costs around €0.9/litre (hauliers don’t pay VAT and often get discounts) you would be spending around €40.000 per year on fuel. This accounts for 20-33% of the total cost of operating a truck.

Of course this is all highly dependent on the fuel price.

Average salary of truck drivers

How much truck drivers earn depends very much on the country they work in. Wages in the domestic haulage in Western-Europe are generally much higher than in Central and Eastern Europe or international haulage (where cheaper drivers are used). In principle the EU haulage market is fully liberalised and so anyone can work and operate anywhere.

But there are some limitations in domestic haulage to protect local drivers against competitors from low wage countries. These restrictions are defined in the so-called cabotage laws.

Modal split of inland freight transport, 2013

Source Eurostat

An interesting document that illustrates the disparities between countries in the way they move freight – with a figure averaging 75% for the whole EU in road transport.

Read more

Geopolitics of fuel

Transport is by far the biggest driver of oil demand at EU level with 2/3rds of the final demand coming from transport. According to a study by Cambridge Econometrics – the EU’s dependence on crude oil and diesel imports has increased in the last 15 years. In 2015 Europe spent in total around €215bn on crude oil and diesel imports. In 2015 Europe spent in total around €215bn on crude oil and diesel imports.

Truck technology

What makes a truck consumes less fuel? Part of the solution is the way a truck driver actually drives the truck - but a huge part is about the technological options one can purchase with the truck. As a matter of fact truck drivers and hauliers could already save more than 30% of fuel each year, by adding these expensive options proposed by manufacturers.