Lang Aftermarket iReport: Big 30% shift In U.S. vehicle mix


“Light vehicles in operation (VIO) can be divided into four major groups: foreign and domestic nameplate cars, and foreign and domestic nameplate light trucks. While the light vehicle population increased 12% across the U.S. between 2008 and 2018, much bigger changes have taken place in the mix of light vehicles on the road.

“These dramatic changes in the mix of light vehicles over the past 10 years have had significant consequences for the aftermarket and will continue to shape aftermarket Do-It-For-Me and Do-It-Yourself product volume for years to come.”

–  Jim Lang, publisher, Lang Aftermarket iReport


Four Groups of Light Vehicles

The more than 279 million light vehicles in operation across the U.S. at mid-year 2018 can be divided into four major groups: domestic nameplate cars, foreign nameplate cars, domestic nameplate light trucks, and foreign nameplate light trucks.

The mix of these vehicles has changed by 30% between 2008 and 2018, much greater than the 12% change in the total number of light vehicles on the road.

Fewer Cars on the Road

Cars (domestic and foreign nameplates) comprised 51% of the 2008 car and light truck VIO. At mid-year 2015, cars shrank to 47% of light vehicles across the U.S. and represented only 45% of the VIO by mid-year 2018.

Surging Light Truck VIO

Light trucks (vans, pickups, SUVs, and CUVs) comprised 49% of total light vehicles in the U.S. at mid-year 2008. Light trucks rapidly climbed in share, reaching 53% of light vehicles by 2015. Light trucks continued to surge, accounting for 55% of the light vehicle population at mid-year 2018.

Light Vehicle Nameplate Shift

While there was a major change in the car and light truck mix between 2008 and 2018, the shift between foreign and domestic nameplates was even more dramatic.

Domestic nameplate cars and light trucks accounted for 66% of light vehicles in the U.S. at mid-year 2008, slipping to below 57% of the VIO by 2015.

Domestic nameplates declined to 53% of the light vehicle population at mid-year 2018.

Foreign nameplates comprised 34% of cars and light trucks in the U.S. at mid-year 2008, increasing to 43% of the light vehicle population by 2015.

Lang Marketing estimates that foreign nameplates accounted for 47% of cars and light trucks on U.S. roads at the middle of 2018.

Foreign Nameplates Dominate Car VIO

All of the 0.5 million decline in the car count between 2008 and 2018 was suffered by domestic nameplates. Foreign nameplate cars, in contrast, increased their number and share of the light vehicle population.

Foreign nameplate cars increased their VIO share from 21% to 29% over this period, as their population number climbed by more than 21 million.

Domestic Nameplate Light Trucks Gain

Domestic nameplates account for a dominant share of new light truck sales as well as of light trucks in operation. All of the decline in the number of domestic nameplates in operation was generated by the plunge of domestic nameplate cars.

Domestic nameplate light trucks, in contrast, increased by 7 million between 2008 and 2018; nevertheless, their VIO share slipped from 39% to 37%.

Foreign Nameplate Light Trucks Surge

While foreign nameplate cars recorded the largest population increase on U.S. roads over the past 10 years, foreign nameplate light truck VIO increased at the highest annual rate of growth among the four major groups of light vehicles.

The number of foreign nameplate light trucks soared by more than 85% between 2008 and 2018, as their VIO share exploded from 11% to 18%.

Big Shift in the Light Vehicle Mix

There was a 30% shift in the mix of foreign and domestic cars and light trucks in operation between 2008 and 2018, as the total VIO climbed only 12%.

Light trucks accounted for all the increase in light vehicle population over this 10-year span, while foreign nameplates dominated light vehicle growth.

Six Major Takeaways

  • Over the past 10 years, significant changes have occurred in the mix of four major vehicle groups: domestic nameplate cars, foreign nameplate cars, domestic nameplate light trucks, and foreign nameplate light trucks.
  • Cars (domestic and foreign nameplates) have plunged from 51% of light vehicles in operation in 2008 to only a 45% share at mid-year 2018, representing more than a 0.5 million decline in population.
  • Light trucks have surged in VIO strength over the past 10 years, increasing from 49% to 55% of light vehicles in operation and adding 29 million to their population.
  • Foreign nameplate cars generated over 42% of the light vehicle gain in the U.S. during the past 10 years. Foreign nameplate light trucks created 45% of the light vehicle population growth. Domestic nameplate light trucks accounted for only 13% of the VIO increase.
  • Domestic nameplate light trucks topped a 6 million gain between 2008 and 2018, while the number of domestic cars on U.S. roads plunged by more than 22 million.
  • Foreign nameplates averaged over 4% annual growth between 2008 and 2018, nearly four times the rate of the overall light vehicle population expansion during these 10 years.

Copyright 2019 by Lang Marketing Resources, Inc.

NOTESpecial thanks to publisher Jim Lang for granting us permission to publish the Lang Aftermarket iReport.

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