USA Country Market
Insights and Opportunities
Auto Parts Market
Overview: Throughout the last year the US automotive industry has gone through some remarkable changes that have been caused by multiple successive events. These include the price of gas increasing, the credit markets being frozen, the housing crisis, massive industry layoffs, high unemployment, and to top it off a recession that lead to the eventual bankruptcy of both GM and Chrysler.
For the first three months of 2009, sales were down in excess of 30 per cent each month. Industry forecasts predict the US auto market to reach 9.67 million units in 2009, the lowest since 1992.
There continues to be weak demand in the market; however, as there are increasing signs of economic improvement on the horizon, the country may start to see a very slow turnaround starting in July or August.
Continued high gasoline prices have maintained significant demand among US consumers for fuel-efficient and smaller vehicles. One example has been the phenomenal demand for Toyota's Prius hybrid car. Toyota has responded by raising the price and planning production increases and most other original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are releasing their own hybrid models with varied success.
Aftermarket: In 2008, the US automotive aftermarket sector grew by 1.4 per cent to reach a value of US$195.6 billion. The compound annual growth rate of the sector in the period 2004-2008 was 3.1 per cent. Datamonitor estimates that the US automotive aftermarket sector will have a value of US$221.5 billion by 2013, an increase of 13.3 per cent on 2008.
The forecast growth is driven predominately by increasing electronic system content in the typical vehicle. The most important factor affecting the automotive aftermarket in the past decade has been improvements to vehicle quality.
The Freedonia Group predicts that mechanical components and parts will be the leading product segment through 2012 with demand of US$26.1 billion, supported by rising levels of average miles driven per year, which boosts replacement rates for products such as filters and brakes.
The consumer/DIY market has grown at the slowest pace among market segments in the past decade due to the increased complexity of core systems in automobiles which have shifted from mechanical to electronic control and actuation. This has made it exceedingly difficult for DIYers to diagnose and repair by themselves.
Demand for automotive aftermarket parts and components in the US is driven largely by the size of the country’s light vehicle park, average vehicle age and miles driven per year. As formerly mechanical components migrate to electronic control, the effect at the aftermarket level will be to change the mix of parts from hardware to software, which will require significantly different skill sets from parts manufacturing to service diagnostics and repair.
All segments of the US automotive sector are being heavily impacted by the global financial crisis, however anecdotal evidence suggests that potential new car buyers are retaining their older vehicles and ‘upgrading’ them with aftermarket products.
Opportunities: OEMs and tiered suppliers: The rationalization and globalization of the US automotive industry has meant that some OEMs are getting out of the parts manufacturing business and are tasking tier one and tier two companies to provide sub-assemblies and modules. This opens the market for supply to the OEM of subsequent replacement parts through the USA tier one, tier two and even tier three supplier chains.
Analysts predict the most important trend over the mid term will be rapid growth in plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and electric vehicles such as the Ford Focus. Tremendous improvements in battery technology will soon come to market, further enhancing this trend.
There is also renewed interest in advanced automobile technologies. Clean diesel offers a particularly attractive alternative over hybrid technology in the US market, and is already widely used in passenger vehicles in Europe. Clean diesel engines, like those offered in new cars from Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz, offer exceptional performance and fuel economy while providing the quiet, vibration-free running associated with gasoline engines. The use of ethanol as a gasoline additive in America has grown rapidly due to requirements enacted by Congress.