UK tipper manufacturers face the challenge of long lead times and expensive raw materials

Will Shiers
October 1, 2021

The spiralling cost of raw materials, coupled with long lead times for new truck chassis, represent significant challenges for the UK’s tipper bodybuilders.

“The price of steel has increased by 73% since January, and just about everything we do, from the bodies to the sheeting systems, are made of steel,” explained Simon Shields, director at Thompsons Group. “Meanwhile we will be waiting a year for the delivery of some chassis. I can’t get a price for steel in September 2022, so how can I quote for a body?”

These sentiments are echoed by Toby Welch, director at Aliweld. His company has experienced a 35% increase in the cost of aluminium in the past three months alone. “We have just had an order for 15 tippers for January 2023. But how can we possibly give an accurate price?” he asked.

Martin Hardman, UK sales and business development manager at Marshalls Truck Bodies added: “Price rises are coming thick and fast from suppliers who normally increase on an annual basis. The difficulty is trying to second guess what the price [of raw materials] will be when chassis are delivered in the third quarter of next year.”

Crick Trailer Sales, which is experiencing lead times of six months, is in the same boat. Technical sales manager Scott Pegano said: “We don’t know what the price will be in six months, so we’re just projecting it at 10%. We have had to put a clause in the quotes, to say that this is the price, but if materials prices go up, we’re just going to have to adjust our pricing.”

“Every part of the supply chain is struggling,” said Wilcox Commercial Vehicles sales manager Jamie Boyce. “We can quote, but there’s no guarantee that we can hold that price until next June.”

But, all of the bodybuilders we spoke to confirmed that their customers are being fully cooperative, both with current price increases, and projected rises too. 

Hardman told us: “We’re saying to customers, let’s get the chassis ordered, let’s reserve some build slots, and let’s have a conversation [about the price] a quarter before we build them. It’s about trust, and with this industry at the minute, we have to trust each other more than ever.”

“So far customers have been very understanding,” confirmed Boyce. “None of us are going to be greedy and rip people off.”

Crick Trailer’s Pegano added: “It’s a UK-wide situation, and the customers understand that. The knock-on will go to the man on the street.”

About the Author


Will Shiers

Will Shiers has held an HGV licence since the age of 21, and has been writing about commercial vehicles for the past 25 years. He started his career as technical editor on Motor Transport, before taking on the editorship of Truck & Driver. Since 2011 he has been the editor of industry leading weekly publication Commercial Motor. Will is the UK jury member of the International Truck of the Year.

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