SEMA News - September 2009

By Megan McKernan


 SEMA News-September 2009-Research
  The top-selling CUV for the month of June was the Ford Escape.

Vehicle Sales and Accessorization

The light-truck market refers to the sales of pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles (SUVs), crossover utility vehicles (CUVs) and even vans. SEMA has traditionally focused primarily on pickup trucks when studying this market, with some emphasis on SUVs. As vehicle sales continue to shift, increased attention should be paid to the presence of CUVs and the opportunities they present to the specialty-equipment market.
Vehicle Sales

Vehicle sales took a definite hit when the economy started to decline. The good news is that vehicle sales have begun to recover. Even the sales of light trucks have increased in recent months. This is great both for vehicle manufacturers and dealerships, as well as for the specialty-equipment market. New pickups, SUVs and CUVs on the road represent opportunities
to manufacturers and retailers of
specialty-equipment parts.

From January through June of this year, overall light-truck sales increased 19%. Specifically, pickup-trucks sales increased 15%, while CUV sales increased 27%. The segment of the light-truck market that has suffered in 2009 is the SUV market, hich has experienced a decrease of 18%. The top-sellingpickup so far in 2009 is the Chevrolet Silverado, followed by the Ford F-Series Light-Duty. The number-one CUV thus far is the Honda CR-V. And the top-selling SUV is the Jeep Wrangler. Despite its position at the top of the sales chart for SUVs, the Wrangler has experienced a decline in sales of 24% since January.

Despite its overall decline in 2009, the SUV market has actually remained the most stable from month to month throughout 2009 compared to the other two segments. For pickups and CUVs, the months of June represented a decrease in sales compared to the previous five months of this year. The light truck market overall, which also includes vans, has experienced much fluctuation as illustrated in Chart below.



 SEMA News-September 2009-Research

Despite a decline in sales from January through June of 2009, the Jeep Wrangler is the top selling SUV this year.


The Light-Truck niche has traditionally been the niche that represents the largest portion of the specialty-equipment market. In 2008, manufacturer sales for the Light-Truck niche reached $3 billion compared to $4.7 billion in 2007, while retail sales dipped to $8.4 billion compared to $13 billion. Despite the decrease, this niche remains the largest of the nine that SEMA tracks.

While SEMA has primarily considered pickup trucks when discussing the light-truck market, it is important to remember that the market is in fact made up of other vehicles including SUVs and CUVs. This is particularly significant as CUV vehicle sales represent the greatest portion of all light-trucks sold in the United States. CUVs have features that attract buyers away from both passenger cars and SUVs. They have the utility capabilities and cargo capacity of SUVs but usually have better fuel mileage ratings. If a consumer or enthusiast owns a Ford Explorer or Chevy Tahoe, and is looking for a comparable vehicle that gets better mileage, it would make sense to move to a Ford Edge or Escape or a Chevy Traverse, respectively. The sales data for these vehicles for 2009 indicate that sales of the Ford Escape are about four times that of the Ford Explorer. Similarly, sales of the Chevy Traverse in the month of June were almost twice that of the Chevy Tahoe. This presents a great opportunity for specialty-equipment manufacturers and retailers. As some enthusiasts move from driving SUVs to CUVs, the demand for accessories will shift as well. The good news is that the demand will still be there.



Top 10 Pickups


Top 10 SUVs

sema news-september 2009-research

Top 10 CUVs


According to a study conducted by Foresight Research in 2007, over 50% of owners of SUVs and CUVs spend between $1,000 and $5,000 on accessories. The most popular accessory already purchased was the luggage/bike rack, followed by the cargo area mat. Each year, SEMA conducts the Automotive Lifestyles survey. In the 2008 study, 67% of SUV and CUV owners indicated that their vehicle was purchased as a used vehicle and 75% had owned the vehicle for more than a year and continued to accessorize it. Both of these are important points for the specialty-equipment market to consider. New vehicle sales do not paint the entire picture for the opportunities that SEMA members have to sell parts and accessories for SUVs and CUVs. For more information on the 2009 SUV and CUV Report or the Automotive Lifestyles survey contact Megan McKernan at SEMA’s Market Research Department, 909/396-0289 ext. 125.

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