Auto Service World
News   April 3, 2024   by Adam Malik

How light trucks are boosting aftermarket business

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The growing trend of consumers buying light trucks is paying dividends for the automotive aftermarket as more larger vehicles are entering the repair sweet spot.

A new report from Lang Marketing noted that light trucks surpassed cars in aftermarket product volume by over 60 per cent per vehicle last year, a noticeable increase from the 50 per cent difference observed a decade ago.

In Canada, DesRosiers Automotive Consultants reported that the light truck segment cracked the 85 per cent mark for the first time for new vehicle sales.

These bigger vehicles are more costly to repair. And with more of these vehicles entering the traditional aftermarket sweet spot, the aftermarket is benefitting.

The disparity in product use between light trucks and cars can be attributed to three main factors. First, the components for light trucks generally carry a higher price tag than those for cars. This is further compounded by the fact that many light trucks are equipped with off-road and commercial powertrain systems, which require more expensive replacement products and are less common in passenger cars.

Secondly, there is a higher volume of accessories for light trucks, particularly for pickups and SUVs, which are a major focus of the aftermarket accessories industry. Lastly, light trucks are more likely to be used for commercial purposes compared to passenger cars, increasing their need for aftermarket products.

The report also highlights the concept of the repair age sweet spot — vehicles aged six to 10 years old — which represent the peak age group for the usage of many aftermarket products. Over the past decade, light trucks have significantly increased their presence in this category, growing from representing 54 per cent of vehicles in the sweet spot in 2013 to an estimated 57 per cent in 2023.

Additionally, the sales share of light trucks has seen substantial growth, Lang reported. From accounting for 51 per cent of new vehicle sales in 2013, light trucks’ share soared to over 78 per cent last year, riding the momentum of robust new vehicle sales.

Looking ahead, light trucks are projected to comprise more than 59 per cent of the vehicles in the sweet spot by 2025, significantly up from less than 49 per cent two decades earlier. This increase is driven by record-high light vehicle sales between 2015 and 2019, coupled with the growing market share of light trucks.

The rising number of light trucks in the repair age sweet spot coupled with their expanding aftermarket product gap per vehicle compared to cars, is set to significantly boost aftermarket product growth from 2023 to 2025, according to the report. Light trucks have been the sole contributors to the growth of light vehicle aftermarket products over the last five years, a trend that is expected to continue.

However, the report warns of a potential reduction in the sweet spot’s population starting in 2026 due to a downturn in 2020 new vehicle sales and a sustained below-average market size through 2023 and beyond.

“This will make the dominant share of light trucks in the six-to-ten-year vehicle age group even more critical to the annual volume of aftermarket products,” the report said.

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