According to Ti’s latest industry report, there are a number of emerging trends which are likely to have an impact on the fortunes of the European Road Freight sector including not only technological improvements but also political, legislative and environmental developments.
One such development is the rate at which driverless trucks are becoming a reality. Although it will be many years before drivers are eliminated completely there are a number of attainable technological advances which will increase operational efficiency in the short term. Improved safety levels, reduced trip times and less congestion as a consequence are just a few of the benefits to be gained through the development of this technology.
Currently, profitability in the road freight sector is low with average profit margins in the UK at 2.6%, Spain 1.2%, 1.9% in Italy and 1.4% in Belgium. Worryingly, these numbers are likely to be even lower when companies which have now gone out of business are taken in to account.
The prospects of the European road freight transport market, directly linked to national economic growth, have been negatively affected by the ongoing recovery problems in parts of the Eurozone. However, with an increasingly positive economic outlook forecast and a number of legislative and technical improvements imminent, the medium term expectations for the sector to 2017 are more optimistic.
Although Ti estimates that the European road freight market will grow by just 1.0% and 1.5% for 2013 and 2014 respectively, the medium-term prospects to 2017 are more optimistic.