New-Vehicle Sales to Peak in 2014, Study Finds

September 28, 2009

Media Contact:
Della Domingo, 909/396-0289, ext. 130


Research forecasting vehicle demand concludes multi-phase project developed for SEMA member companies

DIAMOND BAR, Calif. (September 28, 2009) – The number of vehicles on the road is expected to increase steadily in the future, according to a ground-breaking report recently conducted by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR). The study, titled “The Major Determinants of U.S. Automotive Demand: Factors Driving the U.S. Automotive Market and Their Implications for Specialty-Equipment Suppliers,” finds that new vehicles sales will hit bottom this year at 10-11 million units, and peak to 16.8 million in 2014. Commissioned by the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), the report is an in-depth analysis of the economic drivers of the U.S. automotive market and their implications for SEMA.
“There is no more normal as the industry restructures and transforms. It will be a new day and a new game with new rules,” says John Waraniak, vice president of vehicle technology at SEMA. “I’m confident there will be many new opportunities for SEMA members to make cars go faster and farther as the auto industry restructures.”

The study marks the third and final report in a multi-phase project designed to create business strategy guideposts for SEMA members. It begins by describing recent trends in several short-term drivers for the automotive market, followed by an investigation of the key long-term factors, and concludes with a CAR-generated U.S. sales forecast through 2020. While the report focuses on describing macro-economic trends in the automotive sector, where appropriate, implications for specialty equipment suppliers are explored and presented.

As stated in the report: “It is a pivotal time for automotive business decision-makers to understand the ways in which the economy will be different following its recovery, as well as the ways in which it may have changed permanently.  Understanding economic trends and realizing the implications is essential for strategic business and scenario planning.”

The study concludes a unique project in which SEMA commissioned the highly acclaimed Center for Automotive Research (CAR) to help SEMA members identify trends and adjust to potential market changes. Phase I —The Specialty Equipment Company of the Future: Guideposts for Technology Forecasting and Strategic Planning—identifies strategic challenges for SEMA and its member companies in the mid-term (3-7 years). Phase II —Powertrain Forecast and Analysis: What is Coming and What Are the Implications for the Specialty Equipment and Performance Aftermarket Industry—addresses the important challenges associated with advanced and alternative powertrain. The vehicle demand study marks the third and final phase of the project.

The three reports together give SEMA members unprecedented access to insight on upcoming trends, as well as thoughts on how those trends may affect the SEMA market.

For example, the reports examine how powertrain technology is rapidly evolving. “Gasoline engines will become much more efficient, hybrids will increase in popularity, and plug-in electric vehicles will begin to reach the consumer," said Brett Smith, Director, Automotive Analysis Group, at CAR. "And, SEMA members will have the chance to make these great powertrains even better.”

Waraniak agrees that the future appears to have huge opportunities for SEMA members. “Because SEMA companies are innovative quick, small and nimble, they have the agility to build low volumes profitably, and move in and out of new markets more quickly,” he says.

A panel of industry experts will elaborate on the reports during special briefings at the 2009 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. The following seminars are open to all SEMA Show attendees:

  • Tuesday, November 3, 2009, 9:30 a.m. – Noon: DRIVING GREEN: MPH+MPGe
  • Wednesday, November 4, 2009, 9:30 a.m. – Noon: DRIVING CONNECTED: Built-in, Brought-in and Beamed-in – Integrating Automotive and Consumer Electronics
  • Thursday, November 5, 2009 – 9:30 a.m. – Noon: DRIVING SAFE: ESC Systems and Aftermarket Performance

Information about all three sessions and about the SEMA Show are available at  

For information about the SEMA-CAR reports or to order the reports, available free to SEMA members or $99 each to nonmembers, visit

About SEMA
SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association founded in 1963, represents the $31.85 billion specialty automotive industry of 7,144 member-companies. It is the authoritative source for research, data, trends and market growth information for the specialty auto parts industry. The industry provides appearance, performance, comfort, convenience and technology products for passenger and recreational vehicles. For more information, contact SEMA at 1575 S. Valley Vista Dr., Diamond Bar, CA 91765, tel: 909/396-0289, or visit and