Original Research

A heavy goods vehicle fleet forecast for South Africa

Jan H. Havenga, Phillippus P.T. le Roux, Zane P. Simpson
Journal of Transport and Supply Chain Management | Vol 12 | a342 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jtscm.v12i0.342 | © 2018 Jan H. Havenga, P. P. Thom Le Roux, Zane P. Simpson | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 October 2017 | Published: 25 June 2018

About the author(s)

Jan H. Havenga, Department of Logistics, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Phillippus P.T. le Roux, Department of Logistics, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Zane P. Simpson, Department of Industrial Engineering,, Stellenbosch University, South Africa


Purpose: To develop and apply a methodology to calculate the heavy goods vehicle fleet required to meet South Africa’s projected road freight transport demand within the context of total surface freight transport demand.

Methodology: Total freight flows are projected through the gravity modelling of a geographically disaggregated input–output model. Three modal shift scenarios, defined over a 15-year forecast period, combined with road efficiency improvements, inform the heavy goods vehicle fleet for different vehicle types to serve the estimated future road freight transport demand.

Findings: The largest portion of South Africa’s high and growing transport demand will remain on long-distance road corridors. The impact can be moderated through the concurrent introduction of domestic intermodal solutions, performance-based standards in road freight transport and improved vehicle utilisation. This presupposes the prioritisation of collaborative initiatives between government, freight owners and logistics service providers.

Research limitations: (1) The impact of short-distance urban movements on fleet numbers is not included yet. (2) Seasonality, which negatively influences bi-directional flows, is not taken into account owing to the annual nature of the macroeconomic data. (3) The methodology can be applied to other countries; the input data are however country-specific and findings can therefore not be generalised. (4) The future possibility of a reduction in absolute transport demand through, for example, reshoring have not been modelled yet.

Practical implications: Provides impetus for the implementation of domestic intermodal solutions and road freight performance-based standards to mitigate the impact of growing freight transport demand.

Societal implications: More efficient freight transport solutions will reduce national logistics costs and freight-related externalities.

Originality: Develops a methodology for forecasting the heavy goods vehicle fleet within the context of total freight transport to inform government policy and industry actions.


heavy goods vehicle fleet; modal shift; performance-based standards; collaboration; South Africa


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