The Automotive Aftermarket: By the Numbers

What constitutes the auto industry’s ‘secondary market,’ the automotive aftermarket?  It’s complex and highly competitive, and encompasses retailing, manufacturing, remanufacturing, distribution and installation.  


And it represents everything from accessories, to parts critical to performance, to chemicals and fluids necessary for a vehicle’s operation.

What’s made and sold to equip, alter or add to an existing vehicle–after that new vehicle is delivered from the OEM (original equipment manufacturer)–is considered aftermarket (the products may or may not be manufactured by the OEM). And the infinite variety of parts, their quality and their cost can vary widely.


Industry research put the global automotive aftermarket value at USD US$643.10 billion in 2016, and by some accounts that figure is estimated to rise upwards to US$1 trillion by 2022 (at a CAG–Compound Annual Growth Rate–of 4.7% for the forecasted period).  The U.S. is the largest market for aftermarket products, with the Asia Pacific region expected to be the fastest growing market (with a CAGR of about 6.5%). Europe could evidence the highest growth of all, due to the popularity there of products which boost the performance and “agility” and handling features of the vehicle.

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Importantly, an aging vehicle fleet may give the aftermarket its biggest boost.  According to an article recently published in the New York Times, following “seven straight years of growth in domestic new-vehicle sales, manufacturers have reported a decline of about 1.8% in 2017, to 17.2 million cars and light trucks.”  The consensus is that 2018 will see an even bigger drop to a sales level of about 16.8 million light vehicles this year (  The number of older cars on the road is increasing, although “domestic auto sales remain at a historically healthy level. And worldwide sales are still on the rise.” (NYT) Indeed, some researchers estimated global light vehicle sales rising 1.5% in 2017, to 93.5 million cars and trucks.

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Historically, aftermarket replacement wheels (rims) and/or wheels/tires sets represent about 12% of total aftermarket sales–to do-it-yourselfers, dealers, repair shops custom tuners, and increasingly, on-line purveyors.  Who’s buying aftermarket wheels?  For the most part, young-to-middle age (around 40 years old) males, who shop for replacement wheels at new car dealers, tire stores and speed shops, and via mail order, among other sources.

D16-bronze-metallic-matte-_2_900_-300x300 This growth of the auto aftermarket generally, and the prospects for increased sales of wheels in particular, indicate higher growth for sales of high-performance, lightweight forged wheels in the future.

“The lighter they are [wheels] the better your car will ride,” says (the aptly-named) Jeff Karr, author at Motor Trend Magazine.  “The car will accelerate and stop better, too, if those big flywheels at all four corners have less rotational inertia,” he adds.  And automotive/transportation writer Gary Medley concurs, “The simplest way to reduce unsprung weight and increase performance is by installing lighter wheels.”

For more information about choosing aftermarket wheels for your car visit

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