February 28, 2012 / 6:51 PM / 5 years ago

China truck market to cool off through 2020-study

DETROIT, Feb 28 (Reuters) - The Chinese market for medium- and heavy-duty trucks will cool down over the next eight years, according to a Boston Consulting Group study, which projects sales growth in the country will lag that of the global truck industry.

At the same time, there will be growing demand in China and other emerging markets for more upscale trucks outfitted with air conditioning, radios and air bags, said the study, which was released on Tuesday.

The global truck market is expected to rise 3 percent to 6.7 million sales by 2020 from 2010 levels. China will account for about half of the world's truck sales in 2020, but its market will grow just 1 percent, Boston Consulting projects.

"China will not grow in the next 10 years," said Nikolaus Lang, a Munich-based consultant, who helped write the report. "We've gotten so used to the fact in the auto industry that China is kind of continuously growing, growing, growing, especially if you look at China from the passenger car segment."

Sales in China, which now dominates the global truck market, were nearly 3 million in 2010 spurred by a government stimulus. But that stimulus no longer exists and operators are expected to use their fleets more efficiently, the consulting group said.

Currently, the global truck market is split between premium and low-cost segments, with emerging markets clamoring for low-cost options. But now demand for midmarket trucks is on the upswing in these markets, particularly in Russia and India.

Boston Consulting expects truck buyers to upgrade to these vehicles from their current stable of low-cost, spartan trucks.

The "midmarket" truck segment in the four countries known as the BRIC markets -- Brazil, Russia, India and China-- will account for 44 percent of global sales in 2020, the study said.

These trucks cost about 50 percent more than their low-cost counterparts. For truck makers to grow and expand in the crowded Chinese market, they will need to offer competitive offerings in this midmarket segment, Lang said. In 2010, there were 19 companies with sales of 20,000 trucks or more in China.

Overall, sales in the four BRIC market countries will account for two-thirds of truck sales by 2020, up from one-third in 2000.

Sales in the "Triad markets" of North America, Western Europe and Japan are expected to rise 6 percent to about 1.5 million by 2020, the study said. (Reporting By Deepa Seetharaman; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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