The number of automotive aftermarket parts being used these days is on the rise thanks to a combination that includes more older vehicles — and bigger ones, too.
A recent report from Lang Marketing highlighted that aftermarket product volume rebounded to match pre-pandemic levels after plunging during 2020 amid the height of COVID-19.
In 2021, product use per vehicle came back up before making ‘a significant gain’ last year and producing a volume increase.
The report, Vehicles Expand Their Parts Appetite, credited four reasons behind this: Higher vehicle age, yearly mileage distribution by vehicle age, light truck growth and more foreign nameplates.
Older vehicles, from cars to light trucks, user more products per mile than newer ones, it noted. “The steady increase in vehicle age and the growing number of cars and light trucks in older age categories” helped boost aftermarket product volume, the report said.
There has also been a significant mileage shift that is impacting older vehicles. Lang reported that vehicles under the age of four generate about 35 per cent more annual miles on average than older vehicles.
“Reductions in new vehicle sales have tended to redistribute heavy driving across older age categories of cars and light trucks,” it said. “When new vehicle sales fall, annual mileage shifts from newer to older cars and light trucks, which use more products per mile. This increases the annual product use per vehicle.”
Looking specifically at light trucks, there’s more content in them. And with consumers preferring these bigger vehicles, that’s producing a higher aftermarket product volume.
There’s not only more, but these components are more expensive, such as drive-train components associated with four-wheel drive and off-road use.
“The growing light truck share of new vehicles and the [vehicles in operation] have helped to boost the aftermarket product use of the average vehicle,” Lang said.
The report further observed that foreign nameplates typically have higher aftermarket product volume than domestic nameplates on average.
“The steady increase of foreign nameplates as a share of new vehicle sales and VIO will help to boost aftermarket product use per vehicle in the coming years,” it said.
This is all good news looking ahead, the report suggested, as these factors will keep average product use on the rise.
“This will boost aftermarket volume growth even if the VIO remains stagnant, a likely outcome of the current lackluster level of new vehicle sales, which is expected to continue for some time,” Lang said.
All is fine with demand but there is still an ongoing issue with quality of aftermarket parts. Nobody is taking ownership of this issue. You can almost bet that after installing a premium aftermarket part on a vehicle you will see it back within 2 years for the same problem. When will manufacturers start building better parts? Offering a lifetime warranty means nothing anymore when you have to replace it free under the warranty. It is the installing shop’s reputation that is hurt. We are finding we are putting on more OEM parts at lower margin to protect our reputation.
I agree with Bob Ward, quality has taken a back seat in the past 5 years it seems to be getting worse and worse, it almost feels like parts makers have the same problem as shop owners, cant find any good help or workers to even do the work. Seems to lead to poor quality control and more problems for the end user, with little recourse in the end on subpar parts to the suppliers.