Market Snapshot

Top SUVs Sold and How Enthusiasts Modify Them

  Top New SUV Sales
 SUV sales declined 39% in 2008 with a 50% drop in the fourth quarter alone. Many of the top-selling SUVs above are also popular among enthusiasts.
 Top 20 U.S. SUV Registrations
 The most registered SUVs in the United States, listed above, provide insight into both new and existing sport-utility vehicles on the road today.
 Top 2008 SEMA Show SUVs Displayed
 The SEMA Show hosted several customized SUVs, many given off-road type modifications such as lifted suspensions, grille guards and knobby tires.
 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited by ASFIR.
 BajaRack FJ Cruiser
 Toyota FJ Cruiser by BajaRack.
 Top 10 Accessories Purchased in the Past 12 Months by Enthusiasts that Drove SUVs

Trailer hitches and exterior lighting were most popular among enthusiasts that drive SUVs.
 Top 10 Performance Parts Purchased in the Past 12 Months by Enthusiasts that Drive SUVs
 Enthusiasts who own SUVs typically modifed the exhaust and air intake most often.
 Top 10 Wheel/Tire/Suspension Parts Purchased
 Plus-sized tires and custom suspension parts were most popular among enthusiasts who drive SUVs.

SEMA members have several resources available to them as part of their overall SEMA membership package, including market research reports designed to help decision-making processes, which are especially crucial during tough economic times. One report, the 2008 Trends and forecasts Fourth Quarter Update, offers readers vehicle sales statistics, consumer buyer behavior and much more. A short excerpt of the report is shown below.

SUV sales took quite a beating in 2008 (no surprise) with the fourth quarter representing the harshest in terms of sales declines for the segment. Here is the breakdown of how total SUV sales fared each quarter compared to the same time in 2007:

  • Q1–26%
  • Q2–39%
  • Q3–43%
  • Q4–50%

Final 2008 sales peg the segment at a 39% decline over 2007. Simply put, consumers have retracted from purchasing SUVs either to hold off a new-vehicle purchase altogether or make a shift to buying a smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicle.

In the U.S. there are currently 35.4 million SUVs registered and in operation today. Despite that sales of new vehicles in the segment are shrinking, the sheer size of the SUV market still makes it relevant to the specialty-equipment industry. These vehicles still have practical use as family haulers and weekend off-roaders.

As far as overall sales expected for 2009, AutoPacific offered the following stats:

  • large SUV: 257,300 (-24%)
  • luxury SUV: 88,000 (-35%)
  • mainstream midsize SUV: 121,300 (-27%)
  • offroad SUV: 86,600 (-22%)
  • and premium midsize SUV: 222,300 (-40%)

Added together, that could mean that fewer than 800,000 SUVs will sell in 2009.

The two vehicles that for the most part encapsulate the offroad SUV segment, the Jeep Wrangler and Toyota FJ Cruiser, are also favorites among enthusiasts and SEMA Show exhibitors. During the 2008 SEMA Show, both had a heavy presence within the Show arena as displays of manufacturers’ latest off-road products.

Of the more than 3,000 enthusiasts that responded to SEMA’s annual Automotive Lifestyles survey, 8% said they owned an SUV or CUV, and of these consumers, 87% indicated that they purchased specialty equipment for their vehicles within the last year.

The average amount spent per enthusiast was around $2,600. The average age and incomes of SUV/CUV owners was 41 and $88,000, respectively.

The full version on the 2008 Trends and forecasts Fourth Quarter Update can now be downloaded here

For non-SEMA members with questions about purchasing this report, contact Shirley Presecan at

–SEMA Research & Information Center