SEMA PADI: Wheel Purchase Plans Are Up

After two months of growth, the SEMA Performance Parts and Accessories Demand Index (PADI) dropped 13 points in March, decreasing from 43 in February to 30 this month. For now, 8% of adult American drivers indicated that they had plans to purchase specialty-equipment products sometime within the next three months.

However, a dramatic jump in wheel, tire and/or suspension purchase plans by 18–24-year-old consumers helped to keep the SEMA PADI from a further decline.

In February, 8% (index = 30) of U.S. drivers said they plan to purchase specialty equipment in the next three months. However, 22% of 18–24-year-old consumers plan on buying wheels, tires, and/or suspension components, a jump from last month.

Overall, about 6% of consumers said that they were likely to purchase wheels, tires and suspension components, about the same level as last month, but a drop from the 8% who made similar plans this time last year. About 5% said that they were likely to purchase racing and performance products this month, a 2% drop from February.

The biggest drop came from those planning accessory and appearance upgrades: 3% this month compared to 5% in February, and 6% this time last year.

Over the last three months, on average, midsize cars (22%) were the most common target vehicles for enhancement or modification, followed by fullsize cars (17%), pickups (16%) and compact cars (12%). A list of the top-20 midsize cars is listed below. This time last year, pickups (22%), midsize cars (19%), large SUVs (14%) and fullsize cars (13%) were the most common targets for modification.

Over the last three months, on average, car dealerships (24%, 21% in 2008) were the most popular purchase destinations among those planning to enhance their vehicles, followed by the Internet (17%, 9% in 2008), chain auto parts stores (17%, 15% in 2008) and performance, speed or specialty installation shops (13%, 12% in 2008).

When aftermarket buyers were asked what form their vehicle would take after customization, this month the most common answer was “general personalization” (38%), followed by “street performance” (24%) and “off-road” (12%). — SEMA Research & Information Center