What Matters Most in Europe’s Truck Market


Even as the truck market becomes more global, Europe remains key to securing stable profits across economic cycles. Truck sales are growing rapidly in developing economies, but parts and services—which are essential to create sustainable profits—remain a small part of the market there. In Europe, sales of commercial trucks (greater than six tons) make up a significant portion of the global market in 2016 and are expected to grow 3%-5% annually over the next five years.

But the rules of the road for truck makers are changing. Europe’s commercial truck market is characterized by significant competition and highly sophisticated customers, whose reliance on truck brand identity is fading. In the past, customers clearly associated top brands with better performance. But as truck makers have narrowed the gap between leaders and the rest, customers increasingly see performance as table stakes. These manufacturers must now differentiate themselves through their complete offer. This includes not only the vehicles, but also after-sales service agreements, customer relationships and especially services like those enabled by new digital technologies, such as improved fleet management and predictive maintenance. Success in Europe’s truck market depends on a detailed understanding of the different segments and subsegments in the market, so that truck manufacturers can tailor offers better suited to their customers’ specific needs.


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To help European truck makers understand this core market better, Bain surveyed more than 600 truck customers from the 10 largest countries to gauge how well truck manufacturers meet customer needs, and where they excel or disappoint. This is the latest in a series of surveys we have conducted over the past 25 years. This year’s survey focused on customer loyalty, key purchasing criteria and digital services across three dimensions: country, fleet size and truck application (for example, long haul or distribution).

What are the key truck-purchasing criteria?

We asked customers to rank their top criteria when buying a truck, allocating 100% according to their relative importance. The hard factors of ownership such as new sales price, fuel consumption and performance, which we called “value for money” in our survey, remain most important, reflecting the fact that a truck is an investment good (see Figure 1). Total cost of ownership (TCO) accounted for a full third of importance, followed by new sales price with 22% and truck performance with 17%. Brand, meanwhile, ranked relatively low.


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