Eighteen percent increase in sales projected over next five years

The commercial-vehicle parts aftermarket is expected to grow 17.7% over the next five years, increasing from a $9.6-billion market in 1997 to an $11.3-billion market by 2002. A number of factors are responsible for this strong projection.

To begin with, the population of Class 8 trucks has grown 21.4% during the past five years. Growth in this segment is expected to continue through the next five years, although at the slightly lower rate of 15.7%. As can be seen in Fig. 1, this projection puts the U.S. Class 8 population over the 2-million mark by the end of 2002.

The Class 3-5 truck population and the trailer population have grown at about the same rate as the Class 8 population. Both segments are projected to continue this pace over the next five years (Fig. 1). The relatively flat growth in the Class 6-7 population (-1.3%) is expected to continue, with only 4.4% growth over the next five years.

Recent growth in the Class 8 and Class 3-5 segments should now be producing increased sales of quick-turn parts such as filters (Fig. 2). Even parts with medium replacement cycles (shocks and clutches, for example) should already be showing significant increases due to the growth in Class 8 sales. We should also begin seeing an increase in the sales of long life cycle parts such as engines (including in-frame and out-of-chassis overhauls), transmissions, and drive axles this year.

Other factors contributing to growth in the parts aftermarket include increased annual miles traveled and a shift from bench repair to unit replacement. The increased annual miles traveled are most noticeable with Class 8 vehicles, particularly as driver teams become more common.

Fleets are shifting from bench repair to unit replacement (rebuilt, reman, or new) because of the loss of revenue associated with the increased downtime required to complete a bench repair. Less downtime -- and the resulting increase in revenue -- more than offsets the higher initial cost of unit replacement versus bench repair.

Although gains in durability do have a negative impact on aftermarket sales, they are more than offset by the factors mentioned above. Thus, the aftermarket is projected to increase by nearly 18% over the next five years.

The Aftermarket Monitor divides components into 15 major groups and sends out more than 4,000 questionnaires each month to commercial vehicle operators. Parts categories covered are diesel engines; gas engines; electrical and lights; air brakes, wheel seals and bearings; hydraulic brakes, wheel seals and bearings; manual transmissions and clutches; automatic transmissions; drive axles, universal joints and drivelines, and PTO drives; exhaust components and engine cooling systems; front suspension and shock absorbers; rear suspensions and springs; engine oil and filtration systems; tires; electronics, wheels and fifth wheels; seats, mirrors, tanks, and leak detection equipment; and paint.

For more information on FLEET OWNER's Aftermarket Monitor, call Tom Duncan at 914-287-6710.

The following individuals recently received prizes for participating in last month's survey: Richard Fritz, Rinker Materials, West Palm Beach, Fla.; Jim Miller, Miller Truck Lines, Stroud, Okla.; and Gary Fritter, Schmidt Baking Co., Baltimore, Md.