This plunge in the number of domestic nameplate light vehicles caused a significant change in the mix of domestic and foreign nameplates on U.S. roads. The domestic nameplate share of vehicles in operation (VIO) fell nearly one-fifth, with dramatic implications for the car and light truck aftermarket in the U.S.
Light Vehicle Population Growth
The number of vehicles in operation (VIO) climbed from 248 million at mid-year 2006 to over 267 million cars and light trucks by the middle of 2016.
This 19 million increase in VIO occurred despite a significant downturn in new vehicle sales for several years following the Great Recession of 2008.
Nameplate Contribution to VIO Growth
Domestic and foreign nameplates did not contribute equally to the 19-million-increase in the car and light truck VIO between 2006 and 2016.
In fact, the entire gain was generated by foreign nameplate cars and light trucks, while the number of domestic nameplate light vehicles plunged over this 10-year span.
Domestic Light Vehicles
Domestic nameplate cars and light trucks decreased by 18 million between 2006 and the middle of 2016.
Such a decline in the domestic nameplate population had never before occurred in the U.S.
There were just over 168 million domestic nameplate light vehicles in the U.S. in 2006, with that number falling to approximately 150 million by mid-2016.
Domestic Nameplate Cars and Light Trucks
All of the reduction in domestic nameplates was suffered by domestic cars. Their population fell from nearly 70 million to 49 million between 2006 and 2016.
Domestic nameplate light trucks recorded a modest 2.5 million increase during this 10-year span.
Plunge in Domestic Nameplate VIO Share
Domestic nameplate cars and light trucks fell from two-thirds of all light vehicles in operation during 2006 to just over 56% at mid-year 2016.
Domestic nameplate cars and light trucks both suffered losses in VIO share.
Domestic nameplates accounted for 56% of passenger cars during 2006, with their share falling to 40% 10 years later.
The domestic nameplate light truck share also declined, from 80% to 69% between 2006 and 2016.
This historic decline of domestic nameplates and their share of cars and light trucks on U.S. roads have significant aftermarket implications.
The reduction of domestic nameplates was greatest among newer vehicles, particularly those 6 years and younger, while domestic nameplates accounted for a growing number of older vehicles, especially those ages 12 years and up.
Domestic nameplates suffered a significant decline among vehicles in the so-called repair-age sweet-spot (those 6 to 10 years of age), which generally average the highest rates of aftermarket use for many different products.
This has led to a steady decline in aftermarket product share generated by domestic nameplates.
Future Domestic Nameplate Decline
This trend of weakening domestic nameplate aftermarket performance will continue as the number of domestic nameplate light vehicles declines over the next five years, the result of weak domestic nameplate share of new car and light truck sales coupled with domestic nameplates accounting for a disproportionate share of light vehicles scrapped each year.
Six Major Takeaways
• Total vehicles in operation (VIO) climbed 19 million between 2006 and 2016.
• Domestic and foreign nameplates did not contribute equally to the increase in car and light truck VIO over the past 10 years.
• Domestic nameplates fell from two-thirds of all light vehicles in operation during 2006 to just over 56% by mid-year 2016. The share loss among domestic nameplates was suffered by both cars and light trucks.
• Domestic nameplate light vehicles plunged 18 million between 2006 and the middle of 2016.
• Domestic nameplates recorded a significant decline among vehicles in the repair-age sweet-spot (those 6 to 10 years of age).
• The decline in domestic nameplates has occurred at a historic rate over the past 10 years. This trend will continue for the foreseeable future.