Light vehicle product volume increased at a 60% faster rate than VIO growth from 2016 to 2021, despite COVID-19 and its impact on miles driven
Fort Wayne, Ind.—While car and light truck VIO (vehicles in operation) annual growth was weakened from the falloff of new vehicle sales in 2020 and 2021, light vehicle product volume increased at a 60% faster rate than VIO growth from 2016 to 2021, despite COVID-19 and its impact on miles driven.
“The car and light truck population on U.S. roads increased at a 1.7% annual rate between 2011 and 2016, with the growth of VIO dropping to a 1.2% annual pace over the following five years,” states a new report, 2023 Lang Aftermarket Annual, which provides an analysis of VIO and aftermarket product growth over the past 10 years.
In contrast, light vehicle products increased much faster. The following a key takeaways from the analysis.
At mid-year 2011, there were an estimated 242 million cars and light trucks across the country, and the VIO topped 262 million by 2016. This 20 million vehicle population gain represented 1.7% annual growth.
Sinking Vehicle Growth Rate
Vehicle population growth slowed over the next five years (2016 to 2021), with fewer than 18 million cars and light trucks added to the VIO, reflecting a diminished 1.2% average annual increase. As a result, the light vehicle VIO expansion between 2011 and 2021 was just under 39 million, amounting to a modest 1.5% average annual gain.
Sluggish Vehicle Growth
The anemic growth of light vehicles between 2011 and 2021 (one of the weakest car and light truck gains in the past five decades) was prompted by the economic downturn of 2008 and the arrival of COVID-19.
Light vehicle product sales climbed more than 50% faster than the VIO expansion rate between 2011 and 2021. However, there were significant differences in product growth during the first five years compared to the second five years.
2011 to 2016 Product Growth
Car and light truck aftermarket products climbed by $12.5 billion at user-price between 2011 and 2016. This represented a 2.5% annual growth, more robust than the 1.7% yearly VIO gain during those five years. Total product sales climbed 13.2% from 2011 to 2016 compared to only an 8.6% total gain in the number of cars and light trucks in operation.
2016 to 2021
Both the VIO and product growth rates declined between 2016 and 2021, but products continued to climb at a faster pace than vehicles on the road. Nearly $10 million was added to light vehicle product volume between 2016 and 2021, a 9.2% total gain.
Over those five years, product sales increased at an average annual 1.8% pace, stronger than 1.3% VIO increase. The five-year increase in products is especially impressive, according to the report, given the significant downturn in 2020 aftermarket product sales caused by COVID-19.
Product Sales Surge
With the rebound of 2021 product volume, the light vehicle aftermarket is poised to return to higher levels of growth, similar to those recorded between 2011 and 2016. Inflation could substantially add to the user-prices of aftermarket products over the next few years, pushing ahead the pace of aftermarket product growth.
The number of vehicles in operation, in contrast, will not benefit from inflation, with higher new and used auto prices damping vehicle sales and providing headwinds for near-term VIO growth.
Greater Annual Product Use Per Vehicle
Aftermarket product use of the typical car and light truck in the U.S. climbed significantly between 2011 and 2016. Over the next five years, annual product growth increased more, with the average annual product volume per vehicle climbing by more than one-fifth from 2011 to 2021.
This leap in product use per vehicle was the primary factor driving the $22 billion increase in light vehicle product volume from 2011 to 2021.
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