February '21

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Page 43 of 71

38 THE SHOP FEBRUARY 2021 FEBRUARY 2021 Online Footprint p.46 Installer-Friendly Environment p.50 12V Training p. 54 Products p.58 H it hard by the coronavirus pandemic, the commercial vehicle market is already plot- ting its comeback, creating increased opportunities for aftermarket partnerships. Numbers from last spring show the initial extent of the damage. Total fleet sales—comprised of commercial, rental and government vehicles–declined an almost unthinkable 70.1% in April 2020, according to Cox Automotive: • Total fleet volume in April 2020 was 72,084 vehicles, down significantly compared to 240,914 in April 2019 • Rental units led the drop with a 76.6% year-over-year decrease • Retail sales of new vehicles were down 41% year-over-year in April, leading to a retail seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 7.7 million, down from 13.5 million in April 2019 and down from March 2020's 8.7 million rate • April total new-vehicle sales were down 47% year-over-year, with one more selling day compared to April 2019 • The total April 2020 SAAR came in at 8.6 million, a decrease from 16.5 million in 2019 and down from March 2020's 11.4 million rate "The hit taken due to the COVID-19 pandemic in April was far more severe in the fleet business than in retail," noted Cox Automotive. Looking at automakers, all manufacturers saw large year-over-year declines in fleet sales, with drops ranging from 53.2% to 92.6%. November 2020—the most recent month's data available at the time of writing—reported 132,145 unit sales, a significant bump compared to the 72,084 vehicles sold in April. The breakdown includes nine manufacturers that posted 47,942 commercial fleet sales—a year-over- year decrease of 11.8%. Rental fleet car sales fell by 14.7%, or a total of 35,067 units, while truck and SUV segment sales decreased 57%, or 30,685 units. Combined, rental fleet sales equaled 65,752 units. The full-year 2020 sales forecast for fleets was expected to drop by 42%, according to Cox Automotive, and the numbers appeared bleak—down 34.2%, 27.2% and 28.5% in September, October and November, respectively. However, the industry has turned a corner, with month-over-month data showing steady improvement in key areas since the onset of the pandemic, and insiders are optimistic the numbers will continue to climb. The upfitting and accessories aftermarket will no doubt be an important part of that resurgence, as small businesses and fleets get rolling again. Scott Moyer, director of marketing at 38 THE SHOP FEBRUARY 2021 Work to be Done Hard hit by the pandemic, the commercial vehicle market plots a comeback. Coronavirus Update By Stephanie Galeano-Zalutko Upfitting trucks and vans requires product knowl- edge and an emphasis on customer service. (Photo courtesy DECKED)

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