TORONTO, Ont.– Global passenger vehicle sales started the year with a solid gain, advancing nearly 6% above a year earlier, according to the Scotiabank Global Auto Report released today. China and the U.S. led the way with double-digit advances, but purchases also gained momentum across Western Europe, rising 6.5% alongside improving economic conditions.
“Global heavy truck purchases have also started to rebound alongside a steep ascent across North America over the past year, improving volumes in parts of Asia, and some stabilization across Western Europe,” said Carlos Gomes, Senior Economist and Auto Industry Specialist at Scotiabank. “However, the rise will be tempered by ongoing weakness across Latin America and softer demand in China — the world’s largest truck market.”
The report also noted that truck production in North America has ramped up to the highest level in nearly a decade, and further gains are on the horizon as the order backlog has surged by more than 70% over the past year and is approaching 200,000 units for the first time since 2006. With industrial activity in the region expected to advance nearly 4% again this year, and fuel prices sharply lower, industry profitability is on the rise.
Purchasing managers’ indexes — which act as a leading indicator for the heavy truck market — climbed to a seven-month high across the euro zone in February, with new orders posting the largest gain since May 2011. This represents a key development for the global trucking industry, as a significantly higher percentage of freight is carried by trucks in Europe than North America, the report said.
While Canada no longer produces heavy trucks, the improvement in North American commercial truck demand represents a positive development for several Canadian provinces. In particular, tires are one of Nova Scotia’s main exports, as a major global tire manufacturer operates several plants in the province, including a facility dedicated to the heavy truck market.