Market Snapshot


Consumers say they are changing their driving habits, according to a recent Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) survey, with 90% saying they are driving less, 31% carpooling more and 30% purchasing more fuel-efficient vehicles. Another 75% said they are better maintaining their vehicle (which could translate to more money spent on maintenance products).

AAIA surveyed 500 people during the beginning of November when the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline hovered around $3.06. Now that prices have shot up to $3.15 a gallon ($3.44 in California), will consumers continue allocating disposable income to automotive specialty equipment? Data from SEMA’s Automotive Lifestyles survey may provide answers.

A survey of automotive magazine subscribers and magazine website visitors during October and November (when the national average for a gallon of gasoline was as low as $2.81 and as high as $3.16) showed that nearly one in four would wait until prices rose another dollar before spending less on specialty equipment, while 18% said they'd hold out until gas rose another two dollars. An astounding 14% said that prices would have to surpass $4 before they'd cut their specialty-equipment spending.

Consumers were also asked to rate how they would allocate their extra spending cash as gas prices increased. A little more than one in three said that they would spend their money on custom automotive parts and accessories before going on vacations or spending money on music and portable electronics.

Consumers may alter their driving habits during times of rising prices at the pump, but it seems that for enthusiasts the desire to customize one's car or truck takes precedence.

For more information, contact the SEMA Research & Information Center at 909/396-0289, ext. 118. Check out of the research reports available online at