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The Ford F-150 hold the highest market share of vehicles remaining in operation in the U.S., Experian says.

Vehicle Longevity Means More Service Shots for Car Dealers

“Sweet spot” repair opportunities are six- to 12-year-old vehicles that are out of warranty, says Experian’s Marty Miller.

The number of vehicles in operation in the U.S. jumped 4.1 million this year, offering more service opportunities to car dealers and repair shops, according to a trend report by credit tracker Experian.

Nearly 13 million vehicles went out of operation from the third quarter of 2018 to the same period this year. But about 17 million new vehicles were registered, leaving a total of 279.2 million vehicles on the road, says Marty Miller, Experian’s senior automotive industry consultant.

Of vehicles in operation, 51.1% are domestic models, “although that’s been steadily decreasing,” he says in a webinar. General Motors leads with 22.5% of market share, followed by Ford (17%), Toyota (14.1%) FCA (12.3%) and Honda (9.3%).

By segment, fullsize pickup trucks lead the pack of vehicles still kicking (15.7%/average age: 13.1 years), followed by standard midsize cars (10.1%/average age: 11.5 years) and entry-level CUVs (9.5%/average age: 6.7 years).

The Ford F-150 (3.7%) and Chevrolet Silverado (2.6%) hold the highest market share of makes and model remaining in operation, followed by the two top-selling midsize sedans, Toyota Camry (2.5%) and Honda Accord (2.4%) and the two top-selling small cars, Honda Civic (2.1%) and Toyota Corolla (1.8%).

For vehicle service centers, the “sweet spot” opportunities are six- to 12-year-old vehicles that are out of warranty, Miller says.

“They likely require more part replacements and services,” he says. “Sizing the sweet spot helps identify overall market potential.” About 30% of vehicles are in that spot, according to Experian. That’s expected to increase because of gains in annual auto sales in recent years.  

So-called “post-sweet-spot” vehicles are age 13 and older. They often require service, but owners tend to put less money into them because of their lower value, Miller says.

Pre-sweet-spot vehicles are five years old and newer. They typically still are under manufacturer warranties. The number of vehicles in that group “identifies models coming into the sweet spot,” Miller says.   

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