Road freight transport by vehicle characteristics

Data extracted in December 2019.

Planned article update: November 2020.


In 2018, 85.4 % of EU road freight transport was done by vehicles with a maximum permissible laden weight over 30 tonnes.

Road freight vehicles of less than 2 years old dominated the European market in the last 5 years in terms of tonne-kilometres.

Goods vehicles stocks in reporting countries, 2018 (number)

This article presents road freight transport in the European Union (EU) focusing on road freight vehicles. It presents vehicle stocks in the EU Member States and road freight transport broken down by the following characteristics of vehicles: maximum permissible weight, load capacity, age and axle configuration.

This article, together with the articles 'Road freight transport by type of goods', 'Road freight transport by journey characteristics' and 'Road freight transport statistics' present a complete overview of road freight transport in Europe.

Full article

Vehicle fleets

There were over 4.3 million good vehicles registered in the EU in 2018. This value had increased by 0.6 % compared with 2017, and by 4.4 % compared with 2014 (see Table 1).

Table 1: Goods vehicles stocks registered in reporting countries, 2014-2018
Source: Eurostat (Data not available in Eurostat's dissemination database; B tables provided by Eurostat)

Among the Member States, Poland (15.8 % of the total EU stock of vehicles) registered the largest stock of vehicles, followed by Germany (12.6 %) and France (12.5 %). When looking at the increase between 2017 and 2018, the highest rises were observed in Lithuania (11.7 % ), Ireland (8.8 %) and Slovenia (6.2 %), while the largest decreases were recorded in Greece (-9.6 %), Poland (-3.2 %) and France (-1.7 %).

Between 2014 and 2018, eighteen Member States recorded an increase of their stock of vehicles. Ireland (42.1 %), Romania (36.7 %) and Slovenia (23.4 %) recorded the highest increases, while a significant fall of 19.0 % was recorded in Portugal, followed by Italy (-15.0 %) and Bulgaria (-11.2 %).

Road transport by maximum permissible laden weight and load capacity of vehicle

Road transport by maximum permissible laden weight

In 2018, 85.4 % of EU road freight transport was done by vehicles with a maximum permissible laden weight over 30 tonnes. Vehicles with a maximum permissible laden weight under 10 tonnes[1] represented 0.4 % of the EU transport performance (see Table 2).

Most Member States recorded their highest shares for laden weight of over 40 tonnes, with proportions over 90 % in the Netherlands (96.3 %), Estonia (96.0 %) and Croatia (90.8 %). The largest shares of 30.1 to 40 tonnes were observed in Spain (91.6 %), Poland (91.5 %) and Portugal (89.1 %).

Table 2: Road freight transport by maximum permissible laden weight of vehicle, 2018
(million tonne-kilometres)
Source: Eurostat (road_go_ta_mplw)

Over the period 2014-2018, EU road transport performed by heavy vehicles (MPLW over 30 tonnes) increased by 11.0 % and by vehicles below 30 tonnes MPLW by 17.9 % (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Road freight transport by maximum permissible laden weight of vehicle, EU, 2014 and 2018
(million tonne-kilometres)
Source: Eurostat (road_go_ta_mplw)

Road transport by load capacity

In 2018, among the Member States, France (99.4 %), Spain (92.7 %) and Latvia (89.2 %) had the highest shares of transport performed by vehicles with a load capacity between 20.6 and 30.5 tonnes, while Sweden, Finland and Czechia had the smallest share in the same category with only 2.7 %, 10.3 % and 10.5 % respectively (see Table 3). The same countries had the highest shares for the load capacity of over 30.5 tonnes: Sweden with 89.1 %, Finland with 79.6 % and Czechia with 73.3 %.

Table 3: Road freight transport by load capacity, 2018
(million tonne-kilometres)
Source: Eurostat (road_go_ta_lc)

Age of vehicles

Between 2014 and 2018 there was a strong decline in road freight transport performed (in tonne-kilometres) by vehicles between 6 years and 9 years old; in contrast, transport performed by vehicles 5 years old and less, and vehicles aged 10 years or more, increased over the same period. Transport performed by very old road freight vehicles (over 15 years) has continuously increased between 2014 and 2018 (32.2 %), increasing by 6.1 % between 2017 and 2018 (see Table 4).

Table 4: Road freight transport by age of vehicle, EU, 2014-2018
(million tonne-kilometres)
Source: Eurostat (road_go_ta_agev)

In the EU, vehicles of 5 years old or less accounted for 60.8 % of the total vehicle-kilometres, while those over 10 years old accounted for only 20.2 % of vehicle-kilometres (see Figure 2). In eleven Member States, 60 % of total vehicle-kilometres were performed by vehicles 5 years old or less in 2018.

Figure 2: Road freight transport by age of vehicle, 2018
(% share in vehicle-kilometres)
Source: Eurostat (road_go_ta_agev)

Road freight transport by axle configuration

When looking at the road freight transport by axle configuration, at Member State level, all major economies had more than 70 % of their transport performed by road tractors and semi-trailers in 2018 (see Table 5). Germany and Romania recorded the largest share of tonne-kilometres performed by lorries and trailers with 20.8 % each.

Table 5: Road freight transport by axle configuration, 2018
(million tonne-kilometres)
Source: Eurostat (road_go_ta_axle)

Source data for tables and graphs

Data sources

Bulgaria and Romania: While Bulgaria and Romania had no obligation prior to accession in 2007, they started reporting data for the reference year 2006.

Croatia: While Croatia had no obligation prior to their accession in 2013, it started to report data for the reference year 2008.

Malta: Regulation (EU) No 70/2012 does not apply to Malta, so long as the number of Maltese-registered goods road transport vehicles licensed to engage in international transport does not exceed 400 vehicles.

Finland: National and international surveys have been harmonised and follow a common methodology from Q1 2011 onwards, leading to a break in time series in 2011.

Sweden: A break in series was produced in 2014 following a change in methodology. On the basis of a specific survey, Sweden corrected the European road freight survey results for trucks participating to the sample which were not in use over the surveyed period.

Liechtenstein: Liechtenstein reports only international road freight. Starting with the reference year 2014, Liechtenstein is exempted from the reporting of road freight data.

EU totals calculated in this publication refer to road freight transport reported by the EU Member States excluding Malta which is currently exempted from reporting road freight statistics, and Luxembourg for which data is not available for 2018.

Vehicle-kilometre (vkm): Unit of measurement representing the movement of a road motor vehicle over one kilometer (loaded or empty). Units made up of a tractor and a semi-trailer or a lorry and a trailer are counted as one vehicle. The distance taken into account is the distance actually run. It excludes the distance covered when the goods road vehicle is being transported by another mean of transport.

Data availability: The figures presented in this publication have been extracted from Eurostat’s free dissemination database and reflect the state of data availability on 17/12/2019.

In this article:

  • 1 billion = 1 000 000 000
  • "- "not applicable
  • ": "not available
  • "c" confidential


Data presented in this publication were collected in the framework of Regulation (EU) No 70/2012 on statistical returns in respect of the carriage of goods by road (recast). These data are based on sample surveys carried out in the reporting countries, i.e. EU Member States, Norway and Switzerland, and record the road goods transport undertaken by vehicles registered in these countries.

Reporting countries use their own national surveys for the collection of data based on returns from road hauliers. The results are microdata referring to vehicles and their linked journeys providing detailed information on goods transported. At the European level, common aggregation procedures have been used that might diverge from national practices. Therefore differences might occur between the figures in this publication and national values.

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  1. Regulation (EU) No 70/2012 on the carriage of goods by road permits the exclusion from the survey, if the reporting country so wishes, of goods road vehicles with a load capacity (LC) of less than 3.5 tonnes or with a maximum permissible laden weight (MPLW) below 6 tonnes. Detailed data on car stock (including trucks) by load capacity group, type of fuel, age, permissible maximum gross weight, etc. are available in the Eurobase table ‘Road transport equipment – stock of vehicles (road_eqs)’.