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Thursday, April 19, 2012

As average vehicle age soars, so does the aftermarket

More than half of automotive aftermarket and repair purchases in the United States last year were for vehicles eight or more years old, and demand for products and services to keep aging vehicles running is expected to remain strong, industry researcher NPD Group says.
The U.S. vehicle fleet is getting older -- the average age of light vehicles on the country’s roads reached a record high of 10.8 years in 2011, according to research firm Polk -- and the automotive aftermarket and repair industry is benefiting.
Among consumers buying aftermarket products or services, 59 percent reported their purchases were for vehicles eight years or older and 19 percent reported they were for vehicles 15 or more years old, said NPD Group of Port Washington, N.Y.
This is a significant increase over the pre-recession distribution of vehicles by age, according to NPD’s Car Care Track, which monitors purchase behavior details of auto aftermarket and repair consumers. Before the economic downturn in 2007, only 51 percent of consumers reported buying products or services for vehicles eight or more years old and only 14 percent made purchases for vehicles 15 or more years old.
“The reality is that while new-car sales increased in 2011, they remained well below pre-recession sales rates and as a result, aging vehicles still gained influence in the market,” David Portalatin, NPD auto aftermarket analyst, said in a statement. “Even more robust new car sales would not displace the aging vehicle predominance in a single year.”
Portalatin said consumers reported that they expect to keep their vehicles another five years on average, which would keep demand strong for aftermarket and repair products and maintain momentum through 2012.
Unit sales of suspension, steering, and application electrical parts had the most growth among products sold, with gains of 6 percent or more in 2011.

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