Road freight transport by vehicle characteristics
Data extracted in August 2018. Planned article update: September 2019.
In 2017, 86 % of EU-28 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.
Road tractors and semi-trailers accounted for more than three quarters of total EU-28 tonne-kilometres in 2017.
Goods vehicles in the reporting countries, 2017 (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. It also shows road freight transport by economic activity of the business performing the transport of goods.
There were 4.3 million good vehicles registered in the EU-28 in 2017. This value had increased by 2.1 % compared with 2016, and by 2.8 % compared with 2013 (see Table 1).
Among the Member States, Poland (16.4 % of the total EU stock of vehicles) registered the largest stock of vehicles, followed by France (12.9 %) and Germany (12.4 %). When looking at the increase between 2016 and 2017, the highest rises were observed in Romania (10.4 % ), Ireland (10.1 %) and Lithuania (9.3 %), while the largest decreases were recorded in Hungary (-7.7 %), Belgium (-6.3 %) and Italy (-3.4 %).
Between 2013 and 2017, fifteen of the Member States recorded an increase of their stock of vehicles. Ireland (+41.9 %), Romania (35.8 %) and Czechia (21.7 %) recorded the highest increases, while a significant fall of 25.6 % was recorded in Portugal, followed by Italy (-23.4 %) and Denmark (-22.4 %).
Road transport by maximum permissible laden weight and load capacity of vehicle
In 2017, 85.9 % of EU-28 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 represented 0.5 % of the EU-28 transport performance (see Table 2).
Most Member States recorded their highest shares for laden weight of over 40 tonnes, with proportions over 90 % in France (98.4 %), the Netherlands (96.5 %), Estonia (96.2 %), Luxembourg (94.1 %), Sweden (93.5 %) and Croatia (91.1 %). The largest shares of 30.1 to 40 tonnes were observed in Poland (91.7 %), Spain (91.5 %) and Portugal (90.6 %), while Italy (81.3 %) and Belgium (74.8 %) had the highest shares in the 10.1 to 20. tonnes group.
Over the period 2013-2017, EU-28 road transport performed by heavy vehicles (MPLW over 30 tonnes) increased by 12.5 % and by vehicles below 30 tonnes MPLW by 7.4 % (see Figure 1).
Road transport by load capacity
In 2017, 81.4 % of EU-28 road freight transport was done by vehicles with a load capacity over 20.6 tonnes. Vehicles with a load capacity under 9.5 tonnes represented 3.4 % of the EU-28 transport performance (see Table 3).
Among the Member States, France (99.2 %), Spain (93.1 %) and Latvia (92.5 %) had the highest shares of transport performed by vehicles with a load capacity between 20.6 and 30.5 tonnes, while Italy, Luxembourg and Sweden had the smallest share in the same category with only 0.8 %, 1.4 % and 3.0 % respectively. Italy reported that 81.9 % of its transport was carried out by vehicles with a load capacity between 9.6 and 15.5 tonnes and only 0.8 % by vehicles with a load capacity over 20.6 tonnes. Sweden (88.8 %), Luxembourg (84.4 %) and Finland (81.6 %) had the highest shares for the load capacity of over 30.5 tonnes.
In 2017 compared with 2013, there was an increase of 25.5 % of EU-28 transport performed by vehicles with a load capacity below 9.5 tonnes and between 20.6 and 25.5 tonnes, as well as increases of 13.0 % of transport performed by vehicles with a load capacity above 30.5 tonnes, while for the other categories the increases were smaller, ranging from 1.3 % to 8.7 % (see Figure 2).
Age of vehicles
Road freight vehicles of less than 2 years old dominated the EU-28 market in the last years, and 2017 was not an exception with around 417 billion tonne-kilometres (21.8 % of the total tonne-kilometres). In 2017, vehicles 5 years old or less accounted for 62.9 % of the total tonne-kilometres, while those over 10 years old performed only 17.5 % of tonne-kilometres (see Table 4).
Between 2013 and 2017 there was a strong decline in road freight transport performed (in tonne-kilometres) by vehicles between 5 years and 8 years old; in contrast, transport performed by vehicles 4 years old and less, and vehicles aged 9 years or more, increased over the same period. Transport performed by very old road freight vehicles (over 15 years) has continuously increased between 2013 and 2017 (60.7 %), increasing by 8.1 % between 2016 and 2017; however, it represented only 3.8 % of the total tonne-kilometres.
In the EU-28, vehicles of 5 years old or less accounted for 60.4 % of the total vehicle-kilometres, while those over 10 years old accounted for only 19.5 % of vehicle-kilometres. In twelve Member States, 60 % of total vehicle-kilometres were vehicles 5 years old or less in 2017.
Road freight transport by axle configuration
For road freight transport by axel configuration, road tractors and semi-trailers accounted for 78.4 % of total EU-28 tonne-kilometres in 2017, while lorries and lorries & trailers made up 21.6 % (see Table 5). At Member State level, almost all countries had more than 60 % of their transport performed by road tractors and semi-trailers. Only Czechia (96.7 %), Finland (83.3 %) and Sweden (79.9 %) had a large majority of tonne-kilometres performed by lorries and trailers.
Road freight transport by economic activity
Sixteen reporting countries supplied data on the economic activity of the companies undertaking road transport. In all cases, the transportation and storage activities provided the largest share of road transport. Another significant economic group undertaking road transport was wholesale and retail trade, mainly transporting goods to retail stores and distribution centres. Manufacturing and construction, which involve the transport of products and materials, was also significant (see Figure 5).
Source data for tables and graphs
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-28 totals calculated in this publication refer to road freight transport reported by the 28 Member States excluding Malta which is not reporting road freight statistics.
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.
Economic activity: The economic activity considered here is the main economic activity of the business performing the transport of goods. It is reported according to NACE rev. 2.
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 15/08/2018.
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.
- Transport, see:
- Road transport (t_road)
- Transport, see:
- Road transport (road)
- Road freight transport measurement (road_go)
- Energy, transport and environment indicators - 2017 edition - Statistical book
- Illustrated glossary for transport statistics - 4th edition - Methodologies and working papers
- Methodologies used in surveys of road freight transport in Member States, EFTA and Candidate Countries - Revised, 2017 edition - Manuals and guidelines
- Road freight transport methodology - Revised edition, August 2017 - Manuals and guidelines
- Road freight transport measurement (ESMS metadata file)
- Regulation (EU) No 70/2012 of 18 January 2012 on statistical returns in respect of the carriage of goods by road (recast)
- Regulation (EC) No 1304/2007 of 7 November 2007 amending Directive 95/64, Regulation (EC) No 1172/98, Regulations (EC) No 91/2003 and (EC) No 1365/2006 with respect to the establishment of NST 2007 as the unique classification for transported goods in certain transport modes
- 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_eqs.