Macroeconomic and sector-specific conditions

Macroeconomic conditions

Initial estimates suggest that the global economy is continuing to expand at a muted rate. Geopolitical risks and the general slowdown in growth in the emerging markets are proving to be inhibiting factors. However, the general health of the global economy did improve overall in the first quarter of this year. The industrialised countries are currently providing most of the momentum.

According to the latest economic data, the Chinese economy cooled again, mainly because of the decline in capital spending on infrastructure and the downturn in the property market. The picture in the other Asian emerging markets remained positive overall. In South America, political uncertainty and low commodity prices remain a factor in the economic situation, and the region’s biggest economy, Brazil, continues to face serious problems. Russia is still suffering from the low oil price and economic sanctions, while the other eastern European countries generally performed robustly.

In the industrialised countries, however, the economy recovery advanced again in the first three months of 2015. The US economy proved robust, although the start of the year was more muted because of seasonal-related factors. In the first quarter, consumer spending and foreign trade were the main growth drivers for Germany and its neighbouring eurozone countries, while the depreciation of the euro and the fall in the oil price improved prospects. Countries in central Europe, which held steady at a moderate level, also benefited from the positive trend.

Sectoral conditions

Sales markets

The global market for industrial trucks made a promising start to 2015. Unit sales went up by 4.1 per cent in the first three months of the year. Growth was mainly driven by demand in western Europe and North America, while declines in the larger emerging markets had an adverse effect.

Western Europe was the strongest performer in the global market, with the number of trucks ordered going up by 16.9 per cent. Warehouse technology accounted for the bulk of this additional volume. There was also still a lot of pent-up demand in southern Europe. Spain, Italy and France generated strong growth. Germany and the United Kingdom fell slightly short of the average.

The slump in the Russian market caused orders to fall by 10.4 per cent in eastern Europe, although there was an increase overall for the other eastern European countries. In China growth declined by 12.8 per cent, mainly due to the sharp fall in diesel truck orders. The picture was positive overall in the other Asian countries. Brazil, the largest single market in South America, remained challenging, contracting by a substantial 25.5 per cent. There was a sharp increase in Central America, however. The North American market also grew strongly, expanding by 8.7 per cent on the corresponding quarter of the previous year.

In terms of product areas, demand for electric forklift trucks (up by 9.2 per cent) rose significantly in the first quarter of 2015, whereas sales of diesel trucks (down by 6.7 per cent) were much slower than in the same period last year. Sales of warehouse trucks saw the strongest growth, with an increase of 15.1 per cent. > TABLE 02

Global industrial truck market (order intake)




in thousand units

Q1 2015

Q1 2014


Source: WITS/FEM

Western Europe




Eastern Europe




North America




Central & South America




Asia (excl. Japan)




Rest of world








Procurement markets and conditions in the financial markets

Overall, commodity prices were far lower in the first quarter of 2015 than in the same period of the previous year. The price of steel, the most important raw material for KION, fell again in the first three months of the year as a result of the muted economic growth. In the first quarter of 2015, copper was at almost exactly the same level as the corresponding period of 2014, although copper prices have rallied strongly since the beginning of the year. Although crude oil prices climbed again in the first quarter, they were still well down year on year.

The much weaker euro had a generally positive impact on the export business in the first quarter of 2015. The euro fell again against the Chinese renminbi in the first three months of the year. Pound sterling also increased overall, whereas the Brazilian real depreciated, despite the weak euro.