The Upply x Ti x IRU European road freight rates index shows that the Q4 spot rate index was down 14.8 points year over year. However, the quarter-over-quarter fall in the contractual rates index was limited to 0.9 points, due to high costs and, in particular, the toll increases in Q4 2023.
The spot index fell 4.5 points quarter over quarter (Q-o-Q) to 123.8 points. It is now down 14.8 points year over year (Y-o-Y). The contract index rose for the second consecutive quarter, up 1.7 points Q-o-Q to 129.4. The Y-o-Y fall was just 0.9 points.
- The Q4 2023 European Road Freight Spot Rate Benchmark Index stood at 123.8, 4.5 points lower than in Q3 2023 and 14.8 points down Y-o-Y.
- The Q4 2023 European Road Freight Contract Rate Benchmark Index stood at 129.4, 1.7 points higher than in Q3 2023 and 0.9 points lower than in Q4 2022.
- Toll price increases in Germany last December helped drive an 8.3-point increase in the German domestic rates index.
- In Germany, IRU estimates that the additional cost of tolls will be EUR 6,700 per truck per year, whereas the cost of the new tolls introduced will be EUR 730 per truck per year in Austria.
- Low demand is likely to keep freight rates subdued in 2024. However, the new tolls being introduced on top of the high cost base will keep upward pressure on rates in the first half of the year. This is likely to sustain contract rates and limit further falls in spot rate growth.
Weak and falling demand for road freight across Europe has pulled down spot rates, while contract rates remained elevated due to cost pressure. The spot index now sits 5.5 points below the contract index, meaning that spot rates are now closer to their base level than contract rates. A combination of spot falls driven by declining industrial demand, in addition to contract rises caused by new emission tolls and general cost growth, resulted in contract prices climbing above spot rates from German cities to Paris, Birmingham, Milan, Lille, Madrid, Rotterdam, and Antwerp.