A year in review: A look back at 2013 automotive market trends

March 17, 2014 by Jordan Takeyama

Over the years, one of the lessons that I’ve learned is, to prepare for the future you must understand the past. The same lesson can and should be applied to the automotive industry. As manufacturers, aftermarket companies and retailers continue to move their businesses into 2014 and beyond, it is always beneficial to take a moment and assess what happened in years past.

For example, according to Experian Automotive’s Quarterly Report: A look back at the 2013 automotive market share trends, the overall automotive market decreased slightly, with approximately 900,000 vehicles taken off the road from a year ago. Additionally, there were 98 million vehicles within the aftermarket “sweet spot” (vehicles between model years 2002-2008), which means a good number of opportunities (vehicles out of warranty) are available for aftermarket companies. However, with a shortage of model year 2009 vehicles due to low sales volumes, we can expect this number to decrease next year.

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Findings from the report also showed that total vehicle sales were up in 2013, increasing by nearly 3 percent from a year ago. Furthermore, new vehicles sales continued to increase its share of total sales, reaching 28 percent of vehicles registered in 2013, up 6 percent from last year.

From a regional perspective, while all regions saw an increase in vehicles sales compared to last year, the Western region experienced the strongest growth, improving by more than 4 percent. Both the Southern and Northeast regions saw a 2.6 percent growth rate in sales, while the Midwest saw a 2.3 percent improvement.

Additionally, General Motors emerged as the manufacturer of choice when it came to new vehicle purchases in the Midwest and Southern regions, while Toyota was the top manufacturer in the Western and Northeast areas.

Other findings from the report include:
• The top three states for hybrid vehicles were California (7.9 percent of all state registrations), Oregon (7 percent of all state registrations) and District of Columbia (6.9 percent of all state registrations)
• Top five vehicle segments in the United States made up nearly 50 percent of all vehicles on the road in 2013
• In 2013, the average age of vehicles on the road was 10.4 years, remaining flat from last year
• General Motors had the highest market share in 2013 at 17.9 percent, followed by Ford (15.6 percent) and Toyota (14.4 percent)
• The Midwest was the only region to have domestic brands make up a larger percentage of its new vehicle registrations (62 percent); South (48 percent); Northeast (39.5 percent); West (38.4 percent)