European road freight market to return to growth in 2024 and expand by 1.6%


The European Road Freight Transport 2024 Report from Transport Intelligence – the leading provider of market research to the global logistics industry – shows a picture of muted growth, however the forecasts on macroeconomic metrics seem to be changing positively.

The European Road Freight Transport 2024 is written by industry researchers, analysts and utilising data from Ti’s GSCi knowledge portal, a data powerhouse with over 1 million pieces of data and analysis.

The market contracted by 2.1% in real terms in 2023 (-5.8% nominally) due largely to Europe’s slowdown throughout the year and challenging macroeconomic conditions. 2023 presented a challenging landscape characterised by adverse global macroeconomic conditions. High inflation and interest rates contributed to a reduction in consumer spending, exerting downward pressure on freight demand throughout the year. Although the eurozone somehow managed to avoid a recession in 2023, the beginning of 2024 remains subdued and a soft landing is expected for most of Europe in 2024. The main source for the 2024 recovery will be strengthening household demand as a result to improving real incomes from higher nominal wage growth and disinflation.

In summary, the outlook for the European road freight market remains subdued. Key downside risks to the forecast for the European road freight market include a renewed increase in energy prices and the potential for tighter lending criteria, rising interest rates and persistent and more volatile inflation as well as weak external demand.

Viki Keckarovska, Research Manager at Ti, says: “The outlook for the European road freight market remains subdued, however the forecasts on macroeconomic metrics seem to be changing positively. These positive macroeconomic forecasts should aid a cautiously optimistic prediction for road freight activity in 2024 and beyond.”

Report highlights

  • In 2023, the European road freight market was worth €424,200m. The market contracted by 2.1% in real terms in 2023 (-5.8% nominally) due largely to Europe’s slowdown throughout the year and challenging macroeconomic conditions.
  • The European road freight market is projected to return to growth in 2024, expanding by 1.6% in real terms (holding prices and exchange rates constant) to reach €431,110m.
  • Ti data shows that the total European road freight market will see a real CAGR of 2.1% from 2023 to 2028.
  • Ti’s State of Logistics Road Freight Survey 2024 reveals that 78.7% of road freight companies are currently experiencing increased pressure on margins as costs soar and demand weakens. The top three strategies to sustain profit margins include technology investments, improved vehicle utilisation-reduction of empty miles, and offering new/more value-added services.
  • Where BETs have already reached TCO parity with internal combustion engine diesel trucks across much of Europe, there is no reasonable time period in which FCETs will achieve such parity due to the capital cost and the cost of the hydrogen fuel. The cost of hydrogen fuel impacts the TCO across all regions as the cost per kg combined with fuel efficiency will considerably add to the capital costs. BETs cost parity with internal combustion engine diesel trucks varies regionally, with different political policies on low emissions transport affecting TCO.
  • DB Schenker has continued to maintain its place as the leader in the European road freight market, with revenues of €7.8bn in 2023.

The full report – available here – also analyses the competitive landscape in the European road freight market and offers in-depth market projections and trade forecasts: an essential tool for business leaders making critical decisions. It also provides an in-depth analysis of the total cost of ownership (TCO) and a comparison of real-world capital costs, fuel costs, maintenance costs and taxation for battery electric trucks (BETs), fuel cell electric trucks (FCETs) and diesel trucks. The report also contains profiles of the top 10 most promising road freight start-ups in the European market.

Source: Ti Insight

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