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Trends Shaping the Automotive Aftermarket Industry in 2021

In the US, the auto aftermarket captured $16 billion in market share through eCommerce in 2020, nearly a $2 billion increase over initial forecasts for the year. The biggest driver here is you, the consumer. Folks are maintaining their vehicles themselves more since the pandemic, and, no surprise, the ups and downs in the economy have shown people holding onto their vehicles longer as well. The pandemic also had consumers shopping online for aftermarket parts and accessories at a hectic pace. Especially when leaving the house was dangerous, retailers were either closed or allowed only a handful of customers, eCommerce saved the day. So, maintaining an online identity wasn't just good business—it's become a necessity.

The power and appeal of substantial online retailers drove the heavy competition for sellers in the B2B world now as well as B2C. Twenty-twenty also saw a 6% decline globally in the auto industry on the whole.

Auto aficionados have shown that car society is larger than COVID. Although we can put a pin in viable economic forecasts, there is no such pause for automotive aftermarket parts and accessories.

Furthermore, the aftermarket is as adaptable as it is robust, consistently outperforming forecasts in the face of shifting customer preferences, suffocating government oversight, and a nerve-wracking ICE-to-EV transition.

Similarly, as the used car demand continues to grow as buyers reevaluate their budgets, the auto industry is set to release a slew of new and updated automotive models in the coming years. There's a lot to look forward to, from the restored Ford Bronco, new RAM TRX, and V8 Wrangler Rubicon 392 to the next-gen Honda Civic and Subaru BRZ, the unheard-of Hummer EV, and Mustang Mach-E.

If you are thinking about aftermarket products, here is a look at 10 points to ponder before considering the auto aftermarket. 

  1. By 2025, the light truck genre will dominate the market at almost 69% of all the new vehicles sold. The big truck picture from 2019–2025 shows a 10% rise in the sale of all trucks.
  2. Automakers are filling consumers stockings' long before the holidays with automotive goodies that include multiple trim configurations and one-of-a-kind version packages that can turn any vehicle into an actual custom creation. The aftermarket area is more than willing to step up to the plate for their turn.
  3. Well, daddy-o, the next generation of hot rodding is now off-roading. While the need for freedom grew in 2020, this adventurous lifestyle tool has many more folks taking it into 2021 and beyond.
  4. Modular systems are steadily growing in the aftermarket world. Truck rack systems designed just for camping, kayaking, off-roading, etc., are catching the eye of outdoor enthusiasts every day.
  5. The overland market is here to stay. This camping and off-roading hybrid are designed for those who want to enjoy the journey and the destination. Expect these products to start flying off shelves in the near future.
  6. Having a hotrod was always cool, but who knew it was good for the planet too? Only every hotrodder, that's all. They always knew making treasure from trash was where it was at, but these enthusiasts can expect even more ecologically- advanced parts to make their custom rod "oldies" into "goodies."
  7. The Global Industry Insights study of December 2020 stated the automotive aftermarket components market is expected to expand rapidly from 2020 to 2026.
  8. The automotive aftermarket is largely customer-driven and undergoes continuous change due to rapidly changing consumer tastes and demands. 
  9. US Bureau of Transportation has shown that used car sales rose by 3,000,000 vehicles in 2019.
  10. With the consumer keeping their vehicles longer today, the automotive aftermarket continues to grow to meet those service needs.

The Top Aftermarket Products Gaining Attention

Now that we've seen how the aftermarket parts industry is growing, let's look at the top aftermarket products expected to attract consumer attention in 2021 and beyond:

  1. For truck and off-road enthusiasts, lift packs, wheel and tire sets, new bumpers, side steps, and running boards remain popular upgrades. At the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA)360, restylers saw an increase in blacked-out accessories. Customers want a "murdered out" (that means blacked-out windows, logos, etc.) style in everything from cloth interiors to rooftop cargo carriers.
  2. The popularity of tech-friendly recovery equipment, such as smartphone-controlled goods, is expected to grow. This is an indication that "off-road" doesn't always imply "off-grid."
  3. Companies like Westin, Rugged Ridge, Go Rhino, N-FAB, and Addictive Desert Designs are continuing to develop innovative ways to incorporate off-road lighting into bumpers, roof racks, running boards, and other accessories.
  4. Off-road applications allow customers to branch out from the traditional black-white-silver color scheme. The new Bronco, for example, has an external color scheme that is influenced by earth tones. According to Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA)360 designers, the colors were selected to put the vehicle's legacy forward while also evoking the feeling of being outside.
  5. Overlanding, like off-roading, emphasizes car upgrades to ensure enthusiasts can quickly achieve their desired destination. Suspension modifications, wheels and tires, body armor, auxiliary lighting, and recovery gear are among the most common aftermarket purchases. Enjoying the journey is a large part of the entire experience.
  6. Overlanders outfit their vehicles so they can live off the grid. As a result, storage, protection, and, more recently, networking are becoming increasingly important in this industry. Power systems and navigation equipment are developing companies such as REDARC, Domestic, Goal Zero, and Garmin.
  7. Storage solutions, especially roof racks and pickup bed crossbar systems, present near-infinite opportunities for customization.
  8. Rooftop tents are proof that this aftermarket product is making a big comeback. Hardshell modules, such as the Tepui Hybox, began to resurface in 2020. Mattresses of superior quality are increasingly advertised as part of the kit.
  9. Suspension, brake, transmission, internal engine, cooling, and drivetrain modifications continue to be the most common improvements, with lots of money spending on intake, diesel, and exhaust systems. As long as weakly-powered 1980s cars keep turning up at the sale, aftermarket enthusiasts expect these product groups to prosper. Restomods' growing popularity will also help these markets succeed.
  10. We're seeing an increase in demand in retro imports as tuner enthusiasts get older (and wiser). When 3D scanning and printing become more advanced, this provides an incentive for an even higher level of aftermarket service and accessory availability.
  11. Expect more hobbyists to try their hand at electric conversions as EVs become more popular. The Chevy crate 200-hp engine is underwhelming, but the existence of this initiative indicates that things are changing. Don't be shocked if higher-performance eCrate kits appear on the market in the near future.

Aftermarket parts competition spurs world-wide interest

  1. Competition in China, India, Thailand, and Vietnam enables manufacturers to offer cost-conscious goods globally while helping ensure global expansion. Advancing technology and rapid logistics improvement has also allowed manufacturers to offer high-quality goods faster and further.
  2. In the United States, increasing used vehicle sales further propels the maintenance and repair side of the automotive aftermarket. In 2019, replacement parts dominated the automobile aftermarket share, owing to several reasons ranging from increased vehicle ownership to an increase in car crashes.
  3. The Alliance of American Insurers (AAI) states a vehicle worth $25,000 could cost more than $100,000 to manufacture using only original equipment manufacturer pieces.
  4. Consumer growth is being fueled by changing consumer lifestyles and increased demand for practical and advanced gadgets. The ready availability of these components make them more appealing than ever.
  5. Due to an improvement in the adoption of audio/video accessories, gauges, and switches, the interior accessory category leads the industry. Manufacturers can rapidly respond to industry needs thanks to fast-paced innovation and rapid prototyping.
  6. Consumers are keeping their cars and other equipment for a longer period of time. However, as the lifetime of equipment extends, so does the need for replacement parts to repair broken or damaged initial parts. "There's a lot of demand for replacement car parts," Xometry Inc recently observed. For example, the $318.2 billion automobile aftermarket sector in the United States contributed more than 2.3 percent of GDP in 2013.
  7. Furthermore, the average age of licensed vehicles in the United States has been gradually rising, and by 2019, it exceeded 11.7 years. But, the extended lifespan of the automobile has increased the window for component failure, increasing the need for aftermarket parts. This is one niche the industry is more than willing to fill.

Aftermarket Parts Take to The Skies

There is a new trend for the aerospace aftermarket parts where demand is growing rapidly, as the average fleet age of the world's five largest airlines (ticketed passengers on board) was 12.2 years.

Companies like Xometry who is an on-demand custom manufacturer specializing in 3D printing through a wide range of processes, also provides injection molding services. With tooling costs largely driving the high price of aftermarket components, OEMs can harness the benefits of 3D printing to produce low-volume spare parts on an as-needed basis.

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