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Decrease in domestic nameplate parts sales ‘cannot be reversed’

Shrinking number and advancing age profile of domestic nameplates will ripple through distribution channels and repair outlets, according to report

Fort Wayne, Ind.—The aftermarket product sales of domestic nameplates are dropping with “significant consequences” for many aftermarket areas, ranging from the mix and volume of products and their brands to the strength of different types of repair outlets, parts stores and distribution channels.

“The shrinking number and advancing age profile of domestic nameplate vehicles on U.S. roads have spun their aftermarket parts sales into a downward spiral that cannot be reversed,” according to the latest Lang Marketing Aftermarket iReport.

The following are key takeaways from the analysis.

Domestic Nameplate Parts’ Downward Trend
Domestic nameplates are dropping in their share of vehicles in operation (VIO). Over the past 10 years, domestic nameplates have fallen from over 60% of cars and light trucks on the road to under half of the 2022 VIO.

Car Versus Light Trucks
Virtually all of the drop in VIO by domestic nameplates are in domestic cars. Their population decreased by approximately 40% between 2012 and 2022. At the same time, total light vehicles in the U.S. climbed by about 30 million. Accordingly, domestic cars shrank from nearly one-third of the VIO in 2012 to less than 14% by 2022.

The story differed with domestic nameplate light trucks, which significantly increased in number. Nevertheless, they are also declining in VIO share, but at a much slower rate than domestic nameplate cars.

Increasing Average Age
The number of domestic nameplates in the older age categories climbed as their VIO share shrank. Much of the increase in domestic aftermarket average age has been generated by passenger cars. At the beginning of 2023, domestic nameplate cars topped 15 years in average age. Overall, domestic nameplate cars are nearly 2.5 years higher in average age than their foreign counterparts.

Advancing Vehicle Age Cuts Both Ways
As vehicles age, they generate more aftermarket product volume per mile traveled. This is positive for aftermarket growth. However, as vehicles grow older, they decline in number, reducing the pool of older vehicles that can generate miles on the road.

Domestic nameplates have fallen significantly in number over the past 12 years, eclipsing their contribution to aftermarket product volume resulting from more product use per mile.

Decrease in Repair-Age Sweet-Spot Share
A second negative impact of domestic nameplates’ increasing age is their diminishing repair-age sweet-spot population, vehicles 6-to-10 years old. In 2012, domestic nameplates represented approximately 60% of vehicles 6-to-10 years old. Currently, domestic nameplates populate less than 48% of the sweet-spot population.

Domestic Cars’ Shrinking Product Share
Domestic nameplate cars have fallen dramatically in aftermarket product volume and share. In 2012, domestic cars generated approximately 11% of light vehicles’ aftermarket product volume.

By 2022, their sales share had dropped to less than 5%. Over those 10 years, domestic nameplate light trucks struggled to generate enough aftermarket sales to offset the fading aftermarket performance of domestic nameplate cars.

Domestic Nameplate Trucks
Domestic nameplate light trucks generate more than 90% of domestic nameplate aftermarket product volume. Even so, they have been unable to balance the loss of domestic nameplate aftermarket product volume.

While final data are not yet available, Lang Marketing estimates that domestic nameplate light trucks recorded less volume in 2022 than seven years earlier. At the same time, aftermarket product sales climbed by more than 15%.

Domestic Aftermarket Product Volume Lower
Lang Marketing’s preliminary analysis indicates that 2022 aftermarket domestic nameplate car sales were lower than 15 years ago. During this time, as domestic nameplate product volume declined, total aftermarket product volume climbed at an average annual rate of 2.0%.

Since 2015, foreign nameplates have generated all light vehicle aftermarket product growth.

Aftermarket Consequences
The nameplates of vehicles (particularly foreign versus domestic nameplates) greatly influence performance across a wide range of aftermarket sectors.

The diminishing importance of domestic nameplates in the U.S. aftermarket has significant consequences for the volume and mix of aftermarket products and their brands, the size of the DIFM and DIY markets, where products are purchased, where products are installed, and the strength of the five major distribution channels supplying the car and light truck aftermarket.

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