The automotive aftermarket has long been primed for excellent business opportunities. Back when the first Model T rolled off the assembly line, parts eventually would break down and savvy entrepreneurs were there to provide replacements.
Of course, what’s true for the light-duty vehicle market is also true for the medium- and heavy-duty markets – Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) Class 4–8. These commercial vehicles – semis, cement trucks, buses, delivery vans, utility vehicles, fire trucks, ambulances, large pickup trucks and even motor homes – roll off the assembly line and immediately are subject to wear and tear. Just like in cars and light trucks, parts break, and the replacement parts niche is filled by a variety of aftermarket organizations.
However, that’s where the similarities to the light-duty vehicle market end. There is a level of complexity and customization in the medium- and heavy-duty truck industry that is important to track, understand and plan for. What is the mix of vehicles in these classes? As of Q2 2013, it is roughly a 60-40 split between heavy-duty (GVW 7–8) and medium-duty (GVW 4–6) across the United States.
How have sales been in these segments recently? While the medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in operation comprise a smaller number of vehicles than the car and light-truck market, there are still several attributes that make it a viable business opportunity. First, sales of new vehicles in recent years are low compared with the premium sales volumes reached in the mid-2000s.
At nearly 21 percent in combined medium- and heavy-duty trucks, Ford Motor Company holds the most market share overall. Of course, a closer look reveals that this is almost exclusively in the medium-duty truck market (GVW Class 4–6). Ford has nearly 46 percent of the market in this segment, well ahead of its nearest competitors, International and Isuzu.
However, in the heavy-duty market (GVW Class 7–8), Ford is practically nonexistent. Freightliner and International have nearly identical shares at about 21.5 percent; Kenworth and Peterbilt are competing for third and fourth place, with slightly more than 10 percent market share each.
Total market share for Gross Vehicle Weight Classes 4–8
The race for engine market share is extremely competitive as well. The top engine manufacturers are Cummins, Caterpillar, Detroit Diesel and Navistar in the heavy class; Ford dominates in the medium class, followed by Navistar and Isuzu.
While most people equate medium- and heavy-duty trucks with diesel fuel, gasoline still powers a significant portion of the medium-duty vehicles:
Gross Vehicle Weight
All of these factors — vehicle class, manufacturer, engine manufacturer, engine type, fuel type and many more — create a highly complex aftermarket environment for medium and heavy duty trucks. Understanding these trends and how they vary in different regions can help aftermarket organizations better determine their long-term needs and help to maximize their profits.
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