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Domestic nameplate VIO ‘smashed,’ analysis finds

New report forecasts no letup in a downward spiral of domestic nameplates on U.S. roads over the next five years, which will have “significant consequences” for light truck aftermarket product volume

Fort Wayne, Ind.—The number and share of domestic nameplate light vehicles on U.S. roads are being steadily reduced by two forces: high annual scrappage and low new vehicle sales. Over the past 10 years (2009 to 2019), the number of domestic nameplate vehicles in operation (VIO) has fallen by more than 16 million, as their VIO share shrank by one-fifth, according to Lang Marketing’s latest report released on Wednesday.

“Lang Marketing forecasts no letup in the downward spiral of domestic nameplates on U.S. roads over the next five years,” states the report. “This has significant consequences for the domestic nameplate share of light truck aftermarket product volume.”

A summary of the report’s findings are as follows:

Domestic nameplates plunge

The number of domestic nameplate light vehicles in the U.S. peaked at 168 million during 2005. Over the next 14 years, its population plunged by more than 24 million. Lang Marketing projects that millions more domestic nameplates will disappear from U.S. roads between now and 2025.

Domestic nameplates will fall below 50 percent of VIO

Domestic nameplates fell from nearly 66 percent of all light vehicles in the U.S. during 2005 to just more than 57 percent in 2015. During 2019, domestic nameplates represented only 51 percent of cars and light trucks in operation, and their share will fall to 49 percent over the next two years.

Two forces ‘decimate’ domestic nameplate VIO

The domestic light vehicle population in the U.S. is being reduced by the combined forces of their high vehicle scrappage and plunging new vehicle sales share.

More than 70 percent of annual scrappage

Domestic nameplates account for more than 70 percent of all light vehicles currently heading to the salvage yards. This greatly exceeds the domestic nameplate share of new vehicle sales and their percentage of cars and light trucks in operation.

Lang Marketing projects that those annual scrappage trends will continue as domestic nameplates will account for approximately 75 percent of vehicles 15 years and older during the next five years.

Slumping domestic nameplate sales

Although the new vehicle market set record sales levels between 2016 and 2019 (topping an average of 17.1 million annually), the domestic nameplate volume has continued to struggle as foreign competitors have expanded their new vehicle share.

In 2005, domestic car and light truck sales totaled 9.7 million. Domestic nameplate new car and light truck volume averaged less than 7.7 million from 2016 to 2019, despite the average annual volume in those four years exceeding 2005 levels by nearly 5 percent.

During this same 15-year span, annual foreign nameplate new car and light truck sales soared by more than 30 percent.

Sinking domestic nameplate sale share

The domestic nameplate new car and light truck sales share fell precipitously between 2009 and 2019, from nearly 55 percent to just more than 45 percent. The implosion of the new vehicle sales share will likely continue as the Big 3 have virtually discontinued producing cars and will rely on light truck models for their sales volume.

By abandoning the passenger car market, domestic nameplate automakers will find it difficult to maintain their overall share of the new vehicle market in the coming years, despite the record-level sales share of new light trucks.

Continued domestic VIO decline

Caught between diminishing new vehicle sales and growing annual scrappage, the number of domestic nameplates on U.S. roads will continue their free fall. Although domestic light trucks will maintain a large share in the new vehicle market, their sales will be more than offset by plunging domestic nameplate car sales and growing foreign nameplate volume levels.

Lang Marketing projects that the domestic nameplate VIO will recede further between now and 2025. At the same time, the foreign nameplate population will significantly expand.

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