Jim Lang: Foreign, Repair Specialists Adding Substantially to Service Bay Volume

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Oct. 10, 2017—Vehicle repair outlets with above average growth of foreign nameplate volume increased their bay counts in the U.S. between 2011 and 2016, according to Lang Marketing.

Bay losses were suffered by outlets that lagged in foreign nameplate business.

"Foreign specialists and repair specialists added substantially to their service bay populations between 2011 and 2016, as did dealers," said Jim Lang, president of Lang Marketing. "All three outlet groups are expanding their foreign nameplate repair at above average rates."

According to Lang, at mid-year 2016, there were 6,000 fewer car and light truck bays in the U.S. than four years earlier.

While service stations suffered the loss of 10,000 bays from 2012 to 2016, repair specialists (outlets that offer a limited menu of vehicle service jobs), foreign specialists and dealers together added 17,000 light vehicle service bays.

Foreign cars and light trucks generated over 88 percent of service market product growth from 2012 to 2016. This helped alter the number of service bays in major groups of repair outlets.

Repair specialists added 8,000 bays between 2012 and 2016, boosting their bay share to 19 percent.

The success of repair specialists in the expanding foreign vehicle repair market enabled them to increase their bay count at a time when the car and light truck bay population was shrinking nationwide.

Foreign specialists recorded the greatest percentage gain in service bays (nearly 8 percent) as they added 6,000 bays from 2012 to 2016.

Foreign specialists also increased their share of light vehicle bays.

Following a sharp decline in bay count, resulting from the 2008 Recession, vehicle dealers added 3,000 bays between 2012 and 2016, marking the recovery of their service market position. During 2016, dealers operated one-quarter of light vehicle service bays in the U.S.

Service stations suffered over 40 percent of the service bay losses between 2012 and 2016.

Service stations, despite increasing their overall service market product share during the past four years, need to improve their foreign vehicle service performance, Land said.

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