MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (March 4, 2010) — An expected rise in fuel prices in coming years and sluggish new-vehicle sales will impact consumer driving behavior, and consequently, aftermarket replacement products, as consumers try to maximize fuel efficiency, according to a Frost & Sullivan analysis.
The average vehicle owners in North America are keeping their vehicles longer and driving fewer miles. Until 2014, the U.S. automotive sales are expected to remain below the 16 million-plus unit mark hit in 2007.
In an effort to reduce vehicle operating expenses, a large percentage of vehicle owners are likely to modify driving and maintenance behavior to save fuel, according to the research firm. Many of these trends began in late 2008, when gas prices skyrocketed.
According to Frost & Sullivan, potential changes in maintenance behavior include:
* More frequent oil changes with lightweight oil;
* Low rolling-resistance tires as popular replacements;
* A very small group of consumers is likely to practice tire over-inflation to further reduce rolling resistance and increase economy but this in turn reduces the tire life with uneven wear; and
* The majority of consumers will likely ensure tires are inflated properly, which may lead to an increase in tire life and a corresponding decrease in repair revenue.
The firm said potential changes in driving behavior include:
* Less aggressive acceleration and braking to reduce fuel consumption. This could reduce brake and rotor wear but could increase spark plug replacements; and
* Reducing idle time by shutting off and re-starting the engine to save fuel—which could lead to increased wear on the vehicle´s starter, battery, and alternator.
Frost & Sullivan admitted the impact of these practices on the automotive aftermarket has yet to be quantified, though it suggested automotive repairers should make note of such changes in consumer driving behavior and respond to the potential trends in repairs and replacements.