Truckmakers weigh up supply and demand in post-COVID economy

In 2022 and 2023, the combined impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine created supply chain bottlenecks and disruption all over the world. One consequence was significant order backlogs for trucks. For example, in a June 2022 article by CNBC, Daimler Chief Executive Martin Daum stated the “enormous pressure” was among the worst of his career at that time. Particularly problematic were shortages of energy, metals, and semiconductors.

The start of 2024 saw the pressure finally easing across the board. Volvo Trucks was among those that announced its pent-up demand had largely dissipated, and order books were stabilising. While both Daimler and Volvo anticipate strong demand for heavy-duty vehicles in the US for the time being, Europe is a different story. The former reported a 15% order drop in the region for Q1 2024, while the latter noted a 24% decline as early as Q4 2023.

But do these developments presage challenges on the horizon? Although framed as a ‘return to the normal’, there is a danger that reduced productivity could combine with fresh economic and supply chain challenges to derail the global truck market’s future plans.

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