Terminal Tractor Market | Growth and Opportunities by 2026

Terminal Tractor Market

The global Terminal Tractor Market is projected to grow from $718 million in 2021 to $877 million by 2026, at a CAGR of 4.1% during the forecast period. Increasing international trade (ports traffic and rail freight) and growing demand from e-commerce and logistics industries drive the demand for terminal tractors to handle the volume of materials and goods are the major factors driving the growth of the terminal tractor market.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led healthcare authorities to discourage close physical contact as much as possible. This has also led to the shift in preference for digital shopping from physical stores, and with the growing internet penetration globally, the e-commerce industry is expected to rise further. 

Despite a challenging 2020 for retail during the pandemic, worldwide retail e-commerce sales registered a 27.6% growth rate for the year, with sales reaching well over USD 4.2 trillion in 2020. The e-commerce market is projected to reach USD 5 trillion by 2022.

According to the US Census Bureau, the e-commerce sector in the US registered a growth of 7% to reach USD 209.5 billion in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, representing 14.3% of total US retail sales. The growing popularity of online shopping is the key factor boosting the growth of the e-commerce industry. For example, the Food Industry Association noted that of the 49% of online grocery shoppers, 43% were first-time users. As such, the e-commerce sector in the US is expected to reach USD 1,200 billion by 2024, representing 19.2% of total US retail sales. Thus, leading e-commerce companies are looking to stock large volumes of products in their warehouses and are working on increasing order accuracy, same-day or same-hour delivery, and free returns to compete in the market.

Kalmar (Finland), Terberg Special Vehicles (Netherlands), Capacity Trucks (US), MAFI Transport-Systeme GmbH (Germany), and TICO Tractors (US) are the prominent players in the terminal tractor market.

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E-commerce companies are also constantly looking for economical ways to reduce their delivery time and handle large quantities. The increase in e-commerce sales would require more terminal tractors for the loading and unloading of goods to reduce the turnaround time at distribution centers. This would, consequently, drive the demand for terminal tractors for cargo handling applications during the forecast period. The estimated growth of the e-commerce industry is expected to drive the terminal tractor market.

Moreover, the global export of goods related to different industries, including automotive, chemical, agriculture, textile, and pharmaceutical, has also increased in recent years. The increased trade across different industries would subsequently lead to the growth in container transportation through seaways. The increase in containerized trade will, in turn, lead to an increase in the number of containers handled daily at port terminals, thereby increasing the demand for efficient and faster handling of containers. The global containerized trade is expected to drive the port equipment market, subsequently driving the terminal tractor market.

The growth in population has increased the demand for raw materials and finished products over the years. In recent times, the global demand has stabilized from the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Continuous demand for materials, products, equipment, and fuel from major end-use industries has propelled the expansion of the marine port industry. Increased demand has encouraged the manufacturers of terminal tractors and other port equipment to offer technologically advanced equipment that helps in performing better marine operations. Increasing marine activities in developing countries and growth in demand for resource exploration are the major drivers of the terminal tractor market. The marine port segment is estimated to lead the market, in terms of value, during the forecast period due to the higher demand for terminal tractors in port activities.

The market in the North American region is projected to be the largest. The North American region comprises the US, Canada, and Mexico. According to the World Bank Statistics, globally, the US handled the second-largest containerized trade of around 55.5 million TEU in 2019, after China. The US was also the major contributor to the overall terminal tractor sales (approximately 91%) in the North American region in 2020.

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The growth of the US market can be attributed to a large industrial base in the country, comprising automotive manufacturing, aerospace and defense, and industrial verticals. Other port terminals in North America, such as Southern Californian ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Maher Terminal in New York, WBCT Terminal in Los Angeles, and ITS and Husky Terminals on the West Coast, also handle millions of TEU every year. The traffic in these terminals is constantly increasing, bringing lucrative business opportunities for terminal tractor manufacturers.

The regional container port traffic in terms of TEU: 20-foot equivalent units increased from 59.8 million units in 2016 to 69.6 million units in 2019. This growth in port volume is driving the demand for terminal tractors.

OPPORTUNITY: Automated terminal tractor:

Terminal tractors are used in harsh working conditions and have an ideal economic life of 10,000 to 20,000 hours or five years. They also require constant servicing to achieve the desired productivity. In monitoring the performance of terminal tractors, there has been a tremendous change with the adoption of different technologies. By increasing the level of automation in them, issues related to safety and security have been resolved, providing additional benefits such as real-time information of engine performance, fuel economy, tire pressure, HVAC, and maintenance and services.

An automated terminal tractor helps attain optimum performance and is also helpful in fleet management to the end-users. For instance, in 2017, Konecranes introduced an automated terminal tractor, available with a remote operating station, a specially developed GUI, and an IT system that interfaces with Terminal Operating System (TOS). In handling containers during port operations, this tractor can improve productivity by 25%. Other manufacturers of terminal tractors are also focused on technological innovations, including touchscreen displays, rear-view cameras, GPS systems, microcontrollers, sensors (ultrasonic, Bluetooth, temperature & climate control, and environmental), and telematics systems.

In December 2020, Capacity Trucks and Hyster-Yale Group announced their partnership to address the demand for environmentally sustainable terminal tractor solutions in ports, terminals, and distribution centers. The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding to co-develop electric and hydrogen-powered terminal tractors with automation-ready capabilities. Initial prototypes are targeted to be available in 2021 for field testing.

Such developments will result in improved overall performance with minimal maintenance costs for end-user organizations. Thus, the advancements in terminal tractors are expected to provide business prospects for advanced technology solution providers and improve the operational efficiency of terminal tractors, thus offering promising growth opportunities for the terminal tractor market.

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