Auto Service World
Feature   June 1, 2015   by Steve Pawlett

Cabin Air Filters Market Recovery, Health Concerns Fuel CAF Growth

Growing health concerns by consumers, along with a steady recovery of the automotive market and increasing OEM installation rates of cabin air filters, have combined to push up aftermarket sales in terms of unit shipments. This growing demand from the automotive industry is expected to remain a key driving factor for the market.
According to a new study by Grand View Research, Inc., the global automotive air filter market is expected to reach US$6.10 billion by 2020. A growing consumer shift towards reducing bad odour and minimizing health disorders caused due to air pollutants inside the vehicle is one of the factors expected to fuel demand for cabin air filters over the forecast period.
Other factors pushing growth in North America are increasing original equipment installation, growing consumer awareness, and the steady recovery of the automotive industry in North America and growing income levels in emerging economies.
Growth in the particulate cabin air filter segment will be slower than that of combination filters, as consumers are likely to switch to the latter as awareness of their advantages grows. Combination filters are priced on average 25% to 40% higher than particulate filters, boosting total aftermarket revenues. Overall, increased consumer spending on routine maintenance products over the short to medium term is expected, because people are keeping their vehicles longer in the current economy. In the U.S., the cabin air filter installation rate in vehicles in operation was 45% in 2010 and is poised to reach 56% by 2017; this will significantly drive aftermarket unit shipments of CAFs.
According to the study, the global automotive air filters market was valued at US$3.35 billion in 2012. But increasing disposable income levels in emerging economies, coupled with growth in industrialization rates, have played a critical role in global automotive industry growth. As well, agencies such as the Car Care Council and the Environmental Protection Agency have increased their efforts in creating awareness of health disorders caused due to prolonged exposure to intense pollution while driving, which has also had a positive influence on market growth.
While intake and cabin air filters are the major products used in the market, cabin air filters have emerged as the leading product segment and account for more than half of the total market revenue.
Cabin air filters have become an integral part of automobiles these days, and most automobiles manufactured today come with a cabin filter already installed. This shift is expected to drive the demand for cabin air filters over the forecast period.
Although the prospects for the market are upbeat, some challenges are slowing market growth. The biggest challenge facing the market is to improve consumer awareness of the benefits of CAFs. This is still a relatively new category for end users. Consumers are aware of the importance of cabin air quality, but many are unaware that there is a filter that can remove dirt from the vehicle’s interior. Installers are often also not properly versed in current vehicle applications that have cabin air filters, and the time required to replace such filters. Therefore, they fail to communicate effectively to the vehicle owner that the CAF exists and needs replacement.
If you aren’t recommending a cabin filter replacement, you are simply leaving money on the table. Cabin air filters are becoming an important health and comfort market product, because pollution and airborne particles are an ongoing problem. It’s an easy sell once the customer is educated on the health benefits of a new cabin air filter.
Studies conducted on very busy inner-city streets have revealed that the concentration of particles and noxious gases in the air along the road is three to six times higher, and in extreme situations, five to 10 times higher than air at the side of the road. The air enters the vehicle via the ventilation system.
There are a lot of new vehicles being built that have these filters, but to a large extent, consumers don’t know anything about cabin air filters, so jobbers and technicians have a role to play in educating the consumer on this product category.
Jobbers should be talking to their technician customers about following a reminder-type approach to cabin filter replacement, similar to what has been done with oil and air filters. Prominent displays at both jobber stores and auto repair shops can also help raise consumer awareness and ultimately boost CAF sales.

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