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A Guide to Truck Exporting out of the UK

A Guide to Truck Exporting out of the UK

Exporting trucks has never been a bigger business. What do you need to know?

"Great Britain would have sunk under the weight of scrap metal long ago, without the export trade" - Barrie Travis, CAP Red Book.

Exporting trucks has never been more popular. Experts are often astonished at the prices that are paid for vehicles destined for export - and there is no sign that demand will dry up any time soon.

According to CAP the vehicles that will attract 'crazy money' from export include; Mercedes Actros, MAN TGA, Scania R Series 380 (and Scania in general) plus all flat trailers.

Which Country Wants to Import Which Truck? 

Some makes of truck are more popular in some countries than in others.

“In Kenya and Uganda they like their Mercedes but Daf is the up-and-coming make in Tanzania,” he says. “By contrast Scania has declined in popularity a bit,” explained Shaun Boyson, sales manager at Northampton-based truck exporter – and haulier – E M Rogers.

One potential problem with British-sourced trucks is a marketplace mismatch.Export trucks

Unlike many of their UK counterparts, East African hauliers do not favour tractor units with high-roof sleeper cabs because the road conditions cause them to bounce around too much. They prefer smaller cabs and engines with around 400hp to 430hp on tap – less than most British firms favour these days – and while some are prepared to accept automated gearboxes, others remain wary of them.

East Africa is of course by no means the only used truck export market.

"Egypt has gone completely flat though and while there’s always Eastern Europe, there is very little happening there at present,” Boyson observed. Exporting to the Ukraine is particularly difficult given its acute political and economic problems.

“On the other hand Malaysia is OK and Jordan is OK – customers there take a lot of Mercedes – although the Jordanian government does impose an age limit,” he commented.

Exporting from the UK is a lot more competitive today than it was 15 years ago when there were far fewer players. These days everybody seems to be having a go.

Newer trucks are in fashion

East African customers are prepared to accept later-registered used vehicles too.

On the other hand they no longer want some of the really old kit that was once shipped out from Britain. These days Kenya will not allow trucks that are more than seven years old to be imported. They’re trying to buy younger, better-quality vehicles because they’re planning to keep them for longer.

So does that mean they are getting to grips with AdBlue? A few firms are using it, but if you are sending a second-hand Euro-4/Euro-5 truck to East Africa then the AdBlue system has to be removed ideally. Doing so can cost from £600 to £700 and remember that profit margins on export trucks are very tight.

A Guide to Truck Export Shipping & Logistics

Shipping costs always have to be factored into the equation.

Sending a tractor unit to East Africa will typically set you back around £3,000. At roughly £6,000 shipping a semi-trailer will cost you more, but you can stack four or five more trailers on top and the price will not rise.

All of these trailers will have had their superstructures removed and been turned into flatbeds. Nobody with any sense wants to export bulky curtainsiders.

If you can squeeze a couple of tractor units into a 20ft shipping container – and you can, just about – then by all means do so. Shipping them that way is a bit cheaper because it makes it is easier and quicker to load and unload them.

Trucks can be transported in two ways - by container or RoRo ships.

RoRo (Roll on Roll off) Ships

If the country you are exporting to accepts RoRo ships then this is the best option. With RoRo shipping the vehicle does not have to be dismantled. However, it is important that the vehicle can rollup and down the ramp of the RoRo ship without any mechanical assistance.


If your vehicle doesn't run well enough to be placed on a RoRo ship then it can be transported in a container.

You may save money by shipping vehicles overseas as parts and not pay import duty. Remember though, if you do dismantle any vehciles you will need someone in the destination country to put it back together again.

Invasion Of The Chinese Models

Chinese Tractor Unit at IAA

Something else that is affecting demand for second-hand vehicles is the steady influx of cheap new Chinese trucks.

China is investing heavily in sub-Saharan Africa. Parts support can be sketchy though and they have a poor reputation for reliability.

The quality isn’t there although some local banks seem more willing to lend clients money to buy a new Chinese truck than they are to lend them money to buy a used European one.

Chinese trucks are getting better though and the other thing we’re seeing is more new European trucks – Scanias, Volvos and so on – being sold.