Lang Aftermarket iReport: Light truck population surges between 2010 & 2020

“As the car and light truck population climbed 14% across the U.S. between 2010 and 2020, the mix of light vehicles in operation (VIO) was undergoing even greater changes.

“While the domestic light truck VIO increased, the domestic car count plunged. At the same time, foreign nameplates soared by more than 47 million, and the number of domestic light vehicles imploded. All this has significant consequences for the U.S. aftermarket today and for many years to come.”

— Jim Lang, publisher, Lang Aftermarket iReport

1Four Vehicle Groups

Light vehicles in operation (VIO) can be divided into four major groups: foreign and domestic cars, and foreign and domestic light trucks.

Fewer Cars

Cars (domestic and foreign nameplates) comprised 49% of light vehicles in operation during 2010, falling to 47% by 2015. At mid-year 2020, cars had sunk to only 44% of light vehicles across the U.S.

Surging Light Trucks

Light trucks (pickups, vans, SUVs, and CUVs) constituted 51% of total light vehicles in the U.S. at mid-year 2010. Over the next five years, the light truck share rapidly climbed, reaching 53% of the VIO by mid-year 2015.

Light trucks soared to 56% of light vehicles at mid-year 2020, up one-tenth in share over 2010.

Nameplate Shifts

While there were significant changes in the car and light truck mix between 2005 and 2020, the shift between foreign and domestic nameplates was even greater.

Domestic nameplate cars and light trucks constituted 62% of light vehicles in the U.S. at mid-year 2010, slipping to a 57% share in 2015. Domestic nameplates fell to just over 50% of light vehicle population at mid-year 2020.

Surging Foreign Nameplates

Foreign nameplates (imports and transplants) rapidly expanded their vehicle population, surging nearly one-third in VIO share between 2005 and 2015.

Foreign nameplates comprised 38% of light vehicles on U.S. roads during 2010, soaring to a 43% share at mid-year 2015. The foreign nameplate share has continued to increase, reaching nearly half of the light vehicle population at mid-year 2020.

Cars Versus Light Trucks

There were approximately 121 million cars in the U.S. at mid-year 2010, compared to 127 million light trucks.

At mid-year 2015, there were only 2 million more cars than  years earlier, while the light truck population soared by 10 million between 2010 and 2015. By 2020, the light truck VIO had reached 157 million compared to only 125 million passenger cars.

Nameplate Shift

The shift in domestic versus foreign nameplate light vehicles has been even more dramatic. There were 155 million domestic light vehicles on U.S. roads at mid-year 2010, compared to only 93 million foreign nameplates. Over the next five years, the domestic nameplate population declined by 7 million, while the foreign vehicle population climbed by over 19 million.

60 Million Vehicle Spread

From 2010 to 2020, the domestic vehicle nameplate population in the U.S. fell by 13 million. At the same time, the foreign nameplate count surged by 47 million, a 60 million vehicle growth spread.

Foreign Nameplates Dominate VIO Growth

Foreign nameplates generated all of the light vehicle population growth between 2010 and 2020.

Although domestic light trucks averaged a 0.5% annual increase between 2010 and 2020, the 3.8% average annual plunge of domestic nameplate cars more than offset domestic nameplate light vehicle truck growth, reducing the overall domestic light vehicle population by more than 13 million.

Six Major Takeaways

  • The mix of the four major vehicle groups is changing across the country: domestic nameplate cars, domestic nameplate light trucks, foreign nameplate cars, and foreign nameplate light trucks.
  • Cars (domestic and foreign nameplates) plunged from 49% of light vehicles on U.S. roads during 2010 to less than 44% of the 2020 population.
  • The light truck population surged by more than 30 million between 2010 and 2020, a positive development for aftermarket growth since light trucks average a significantly greater annual volume of product use than passenger cars.
  • Domestic nameplate light trucks topped 4 million in VIO growth, while domestic cars fell by more than 25 million over the past 10 years.
  • Foreign nameplates surged at a 4.1% average annual pace between 2010 and 2020, more than three times the growth rate of the overall light vehicle population.
  • The 2021 Lang Aftermarket Annual provides analysis of the evolving mix of vehicles across the U.S., which is driving changes in aftermarket product volume, where parts and repairs are purchased, product brand strength and how products are distributed through the five channels supplying the light vehicle aftermarket.

Copyright 2021 by Lang Marketing Resources, Inc.

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