The specialty-equipment market is not always directly affected by new-car sales as evidenced by the latest SEMA survey. SEMA’s monthly Performance Parts and Accessories Demand Index (PADI) showed a one percent increase in the three-month moving average for consumers who are planning to modify a pickup. This means that even after a 32% drop in new-pickup sales in May 2008 compared to one year ago, pickups still dominate the specialty-equipment market share.

There may be an explanation for pickups keeping their popularity while the automakers struggle to make sales in this segment. Current pickup-owners are keeping their trucks longer due to the high cost of buying a new one, so personalizing their older pickups with specialty equipment helps to improve the performance and appearance. Also, a May 2008 SEMA survey directed at automotive enthusiasts showed an average age of 46 years old and the average income was in excess of $96,700.

The age and income coincides with what auto dealers are saying about pickup sales. James Coleman of Plainview Dodge Chrysler Jeep in Plainview, Texas, says, “About 60%–70% of our business is pickups. It’s the Baby Boomers and maturing families that buy pickups.”

The light-truck market is important for the specialty-equipment industry. In 2007, the light-truck niche accounted for 42.3% of all manufacturer sales. This is out of nine niches and by far the largest, almost doubling the manufacturers’ sales volume of the sport-compact niche. This also gives insight into the specialty-equipment market by showing that it is not affected as much by external forces. The specialty-equipment market is built on enthusiasts that are less deterred as much by external economical forces.

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