USA Today cites the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data showing that the average price of new vehicles increased by 12.2 percent in January 2022 compared to the same month last year. The average price of used cars and trucks increased by a larger 40.5 percent during the same period. As new and used cars are getting more expensive and harder to find, people will make sure that they take good care of their existing or newly purchased vehicles. This is a good year for automobile repair and maintenance, auto detailing, and related services in the country.
The Auto Care Association’s (ACA) 2022 Auto Care Factbook expects the industry to reach a value of 439.8 billion this year. With a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.4, the industry is predicted to reach a value of $477 billion in 2024.
As of June 2021, Cars.com reported that based on data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the average age of vehicles in the U.S. was 12.1 years. IHS Markit highlighted that this was a record high. On Linkedin, an article stated that this year, there is an expected 15 percent increase in the number of vehicles in the country that are 12 years old and older. Also, the estimate is that this year, the number of vehicles in the country aged 16 years or older will reach around 76 million.
Older vehicles need more repair and maintenance services. The estimate is that 18 percent of households nationwide will avail themselves of auto shop services not less than once every year.
One of the difficulties of repairing very old vehicles is the availability of parts. Auto shops must be creative in sourcing these. Salvage yards are good sources of such parts. It is also helpful to search online. This makes a part accessible even from the other side of the globe.
More Vehicle Crashes
The ACA estimates that collision repair services in 2022 will increase by 6.3 percent. This is consistent with data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showing that from January to June 2021 alone, there were around 20,160 fatalities from car crashes. This was 18.4 percent higher than that of the same period in 2020, and the highest six-month count since 2006.
The Traffic Safety Facts document of the NHTSA attributes the crashes to risky driver behavior such as speeding, distracted driving, intoxication, and substance abuse. While the DOT has announced a National Roadway Safety Strategy, such driver behavior cannot be immediately stopped. Cars that do not get demolished in crashes can still be saved with a thorough repair.
In addition to the usual repair and maintenance services, an auto shop can earn more by offering other vehicle enhancements such as auto painting and auto detailing services. The acquisition of an automotive paint spray booth is a good investment as many owners of old vehicles do not want their rides to look battered. Afterward, regular exterior and interior detailing will keep the vehicle looking new. Paintwork and detailing also increase the resale value of the vehicle.
Challenges to the Industry
Even as auto manufacturing during the pandemic was hit by shortages in parts, so was the vehicle aftermarket industry. Auto shops must ensure that they have a reliable supply chain for parts of vehicle models that they regularly service. If they have fleet contracts, it will be best to have stocks in advance.
A major disruption, however, is the emergence of many new models of hybrid and all-electric models from almost all vehicle brands. Soon, manufacturers will no longer produce vehicles using an internal combustion engine (ICE). The repair and maintenance of hybrid and all-electric vehicles are totally different from that of ICE vehicles. These require new skills and new technology.
There is also a shortage of vehicle technicians. Millions are due to retire and there are not enough young ones to fill their jobs. Auto Service World reports on TechForce Foundation’s study predicting that by 2024, the country will be short of automotive technicians by 642,000.
Keep on Trend
The auto repair and maintenance industry will continue to thrive while older vehicles are still on the road. Auto shops must, however, also prepare their technicians for handling hybrid and electric vehicles that will be increasingly driven by motorists. They must invest in training as well as the necessary technology to serve new needs. They cannot afford to be left behind. Hopefully, the emergence of hybrid and all-electric vehicles that have the latest digital technology will attract a new breed of young technicians eager to explore this new field.