Are aftermarket suppliers in for a rough ride?

Wired writes about the possibility that we have reach peak travel. That got us thinking about what the implications for the automotive OEMs might be? What about the aftermarket parts suppliers and the repair shops and their suppliers? Are the aftermarket suppliers in for a rougher ride than the already rough years in recent past?

From Autopia: Study Suggests We’ve Hit ‘Peak Travel’

They found a correlation between rising prosperity and passenger travel from 1970 to 2003. But passenger travel stopped growing after 2003 even as GDP per capita continued to rise.

Motorized travel has plateaued at about 16,155 miles per year per person in the United States, 6,213 miles in Japan and between 8,077 and 10,563 miles in the other countries.

“Since 2003, motorized travel demand has leveled out or even declined in most of the countries studied, and travel in private vehicles has declined,” the authors wrote in their study. “Car ownership has continued to rise, but these cars are being driven less.” (full story)

If car sales continue to rise (which we believe they will) and families therefore will have more vehicles in the driveway and these vehicles are driven less, what does that mean for the service and repair businesses and their suppliers?

Do more cars on the road equal more aftermarket parts? Or does the fact that they are driven less equal fewer parts net net? And as quality of cars ceteris paribus has gotten much better, do the cars visit the repair shop less? All these issues need to be studied and addressed by suppliers in the aftermarket and to the repair shops. Our guess is their business will be further under pressure.

Your thoughts?

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