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The McKinsey report precedes the opening of the Hanover Commerial Vehicles show Sept 22. (Photo: IAA)

One in three trucks will be able to drive autonomously under certain conditions, according to a new McKinsey study.

Driverless technology will account for a sizable chunk of the market growth expected for trucks weighing more than six tons. Sales are forecast to surge to 240 billion euros a year by 2025 from 150 billion euros  a year today.

The consultants project that profits generated in the truck market will also grow to 15 billion euros from 9 billion euros.

"New technologies offer truck manufacturers an opportunity for differentiation through new business models that go beyond the vehicle," Andreas Tschiesner, head of European automotive consulting at McKinsey, said in a statement.

Tschiesner warned, however, that truck makers are facing increased competition from high-tech companies.

Autonomous driving will radically reshape the trucking industry, McKinsey said. Today, drivers account for 30-to-40 pc of the overall costs of  operating a heavy truck. The percentage stands at 60 pc for smaller delivery vehicles. With autonomous vehicles, this total cost of ownership (TCO) could be cut by 50 pc, while capacity use could be increased, McKinsey said.

Connectivity will be crucial to the success of new business models, because it can reduce dependence on truck sales, the consultants said.

According to the report, which polled more than 3,000 customers and trucking-industry executives in Germany, the US and China, 49 pc of those interviewed said "capacity as a service" could, in future, become more attractive than truck sales.

The McKinsey study was released less than two weeks before the opening of the IAA Commercial Vehicles show, which takes place in Hanover every other year.

This year's exhibition will pay particular attention to connected and automated driving, alternative powertrains and urban logistics.