Market Snapshot


"Many diesel pickup truck owners pull trailers, so enthusiasts often look for products that improve
towing capabilities while helping to save a few dollars at the pumps," said Ty Michael, SEMA
market research manager.

Recent SEMA research data reveals that light-truck diesel owners spent 21% more in the current year compared to the previous year, indicating that despite high diesel fuel prices, enthusiasts are still actively personalizing their diesel pickups.

As part of SEMA’s Automotive Lifestyles survey, automotive enthusiasts were surveyed in June of 2008 in order to determine whether recent hikes in diesel prices have affected spending. Although only 8% of the 845 enthusiasts who answered the survey owned diesels, this small sample showed that diesel pickup owners who are industry enthusiasts still planned to personalize their vehicles.

"We are finding that enthusiasts are buying products in order to help improve fuel economy in addition to performance gains,” said Ty Michael, SEMA market research manager. “In our latest survey, over 80% of diesel owners told us that they had already purchased products in order to help improve fuel economy, and three out of four respondents actually noted gains." Nearly half (49%) of those surveyed indicated that they still planned to purchase custom parts and accessories over the next three months following the survey.

Observing 2005- to 2007-model-year diesel light trucks on the streets today, more than 1.5 million turbodiesels were installed in SUVs and heavy-duty pickups. The largest percentage of these diesels are 6.0L Power Stroke engines offered in Ford’s Super Duty pickups, followed by the Cummins engine in the Dodge Ram and Chevrolet’s Duramax engine. Since the diesel light-truck market is currently composed primarily of these three automakers’ pickups, opportunities for the specialty-equipment market have been geared toward accessories for these trucks.

Although diesel powertrains comprised only 5.7% of light trucks built over the past three model years, enthusiasts who own diesel light trucks spend more on specialty equipment compared to gas-powered light-truck owners.

A 2004 survey of SEMA members predicted that the diesel market share would increase to 15% by 2014 due to the need for greater fuel economy. The Bosch Group, a major supplier within the diesel automotive industry, announced in May of this year that it estimates the North American market for light-diesel vehicles will reach 15% of new-vehicle sales by 2015.

SEMA administered a SEMA-member survey during March and April of this year and received more than 400 responses from manufacturers, sellers and marketers in the specialty-equipment industry. More than half (57%) of those surveyed indicated that a portion of their specialty-equipment sales are comprised of at least some diesel products.

What is even more revealing about the profitability of the performance diesel market is the fact that companies who sold diesel-related products earned 51% more sales in 2007 compared to companies that did not target the performance-diesel market, according to survey results.

For more original SEMA market research, click here.