Truck electrification emerges as a major trend with electric powertrains set to reach 1 million units in 2030 on the back of technological improvements and government support.

Commercial truck sales in China plunged from 3.7 million units in 2021 to 2.4 million units in 2022, reflecting a YoY decrease of 35.3%. This was attributed to, among factors, decelerated economic growth, reduced trade transactions, subdued manufacturing activities, pandemic effects, rising crude oil prices, a volatile real estate sector, stricter emission standards, and shrinking market demand. The heavy-duty trucks segment was particularly hard hit, registering a YoY decrease of 51.8% even as its share of the overall market contracted from 40.7% in 2020 to 28.2% in 2022.

However, there are indications that China’s commercial truck market is pulling back from this slump. It is projected to nearly double to 4.3 million unit shipments by 2030. Key drivers in this revival will be burgeoning transport and logistics needs, particularly for eCommerce retail deliveries, the need for periodic truck replacements to align with stricter new emissions standards, and government impetus in the form of subsidies and incentives.

Electric powertrain solutions gaining traction
With an over 60% share, diesel is the most popular powertrain choice for commercial trucks. Gasoline, at around 31%, is the second most popular powertrain with widespread use among light-duty trucks. The largest segment of light duty trucks which comprise around 68% of China’s total commercial truck market, use diverse powertrain solutions, including diesel, gasoline, electric, and natural gas. Relatively shorter driving distances in this segment have encouraged the uptake of electric charging solutions and natural gas.

At present, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) comprise around 3.3% of powertrains in the market. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) that are used mainly in the light-duty truck segment and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) that are used primarily in the heavy-duty truck segment, collectively account for 0.2% of total powertrains. Frost & Sullivan projects electric powertrain adoption to rise from 0.08 million units in 2022 to 1 million in 2030 on the back of technological improvements and government support.

To learn more, please access: China Commercial Truck Industry Growth Opportunities, Indian Commercial Vehicle Growth Opportunities, Global Connected Medium & Heavy Commercial Vehicles Growth Opportunities, or contact sathyanarayanak@frost.com for information on a private briefing.

Intense competition to whittle away market concentration
Competition is intense and dominated by Chinese OEMs. Around 50 OEMs jostle for a share of revenues with cost, performance, government subsidy support, technology, and reliability emerging as key competitive factors. The top five OEMs—Foton, Dongfeng, CNHTC, JAC, and FAW Jiefang—captured over 55% of the market in 2022, leaving 45 OEMs to fight over the remaining market share. In the long term, increasing competition will whittle away at market concentration. This trend is already evident: the share of the top five OEMs shrank to 55.2% in 2022 from 60.1% in 2021.

Currently, there is a high degree of concentration within each segment. For instance, the top five OEMs in the medium-duty truck segment accounted for 88.7% of share in 2022. While Foton dominates the medium and light-duty segments, CNHTC leads the heavy-duty truck segment.

Looking Ahead
Electric powertrain solutions will become more prominent over the next 5-6 years. Consider that FCEV sales in the light-duty truck segment rose from only three units in 2021 to over 660 units in 2022. Battery swapping technology will also gain traction, particularly in heavy-duty trucks. Based on such trends, Frost & Sullivan projects electric powertrains to account for just short of 25% of the overall Chinese commercial truck market by 2030. To accelerate uptake, market stakeholders will need to focus on developing core capabilities, strengthening supply chains, enhancing charging infrastructure, and expanding their application base.

Another key growth catalyst will be the need for periodic truck replacements. The Chinese government has declared its intention of having more 40% of operating commercial trucks meet electric and China VI emission standards by 2025. Participants will need to monitor renewal cycles and policy-driven cycles in order to leverage associated opportunities.

Road transport is central to China’s freight and logistics services. Accordingly, commercial truck operators will need to embrace productivity and performance enhancing digital tools, such as digital freight brokerage. Meanwhile, to offset the fall in demand for dump truck and mixer trucks from struggling real estate and construction end-user sectors, market participants should provide more specialized and diversified commercial trucks that can meet a wider range of freight demands, applications, and cargo types.

With inputs from Amrita Shetty, Senior Manager, Communications & Content –Mobility

About Chan Ming Lih

Chan Ming Lih is an Industry Principal with Frost & Sullivan's Mobility Practice. She has about a decade of strategic research and consulting experience in automotive market development, which includes sales and marketing, brand management, supply chain channel, and new business development. Her industry expertise covers a broad range of segments such as PVs, CVs, EVs, Off-highway vehicles and accessories, Powertrain solutions, and strategic online selling platform analysis, among others.

Chan Ming Lih

Chan Ming Lih is an Industry Principal with Frost & Sullivan's Mobility Practice. She has about a decade of strategic research and consulting experience in automotive market development, which includes sales and marketing, brand management, supply chain channel, and new business development. Her industry expertise covers a broad range of segments such as PVs, CVs, EVs, Off-highway vehicles and accessories, Powertrain solutions, and strategic online selling platform analysis, among others.

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