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Consumer Preference Continues to Shift Towards Utility Vehicles Through Q4 2023

Published: March 27, 2024 by Marty Miller

From consumers seeking versatility and additional cargo space to more models becoming available—a discernible trend the automotive industry has seen in recent years is the shift towards utility vehicles such as SUVs and crossover utility vehicles (CUVs).

In fact, Experian’s Automotive Market Trends Report: Q4 2023 found that utility vehicles were a significant driver in new vehicle registrations, coming in at 57.3%, up from 56.2% through Q4 2022. Meanwhile, pickup trucks declined from 18.5% last year to 17.2% this quarter and sedans went from 17.1% to 16.5% in the same time frame.

Optimizing vehicle maintenance post-manufacturer warranty

Despite utility vehicles making up the majority of new vehicle registrations through Q4 2023, passenger vehicles (85.1%) and light trucks (82.7%) had the most vehicles that were outside of the general manufacturer warranty this quarter—mostly due to a high volume of registrations in previous years. By comparison, 67.1% of all utility vehicles were outside the general manufacturer warranty.

Understanding the current status of these vehicles enables aftermarket professionals to tailor their service recommendations accordingly. Furthermore, it will be important to monitor this trend over the next few years as the vehicles that are currently under manufacturer warranty will likely need maintenance after it expires.

Vehicle registrations and aftermarket sweet spot

When looking at overall registration trends, new vehicles increased 12.5% from last year—reaching 15.3 million through Q4 2023 and used vehicles declined 1.5% year-over-year to 38.2 million this quarter.

While monitoring vehicle registration trends helps aftermarket professionals properly assist consumers now and in the future, identifying and understanding the aftermarket “sweet spot” allows them to stay ahead of the curve and adapt to changes as the market continues to evolve.

Vehicles in the sweet spot are generally between six- to 12-model-years-old and have aged out of general OEM manufacturer warranties for any repairs.

Through Q4 2023, 35.5% of all vehicles in operation landed in the sweet spot, marking a 3.6% year-over-year increase. Though, the aftermarket sweet spot volume is expected to hit its peak in the next few months at nearly 116 million vehicles—considering the record high was 104 million through 2011 and the sweet spot volume reached 102.4 million through Q4 2023.

As aftermarket professionals look for ways to reach the right audience, leveraging registration data and the types of vehicles entering the market enables them to adjust their marketing strategies accordingly and plan their services effectively.

To learn more about vehicle market trends, view the full Automotive Market Trends Report: Q4 2023 presentation on demand.

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