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IndustryNet Blog

A Closer Look at Growth in the U.S. Motor Vehicle Parts Industry

Posted by IndustryNet on Tuesday, May 21, 2019


The motor vehicle parts market is a massive economic engine for the United States, which has asupplier or manufacturer in all 50 states. But, tied to the fortunes of the auto industry, the suppliers that build components are easily affected by new vehicle sales and international trade turmoil.

Related: Fastest-Growing Auto Parts Manufacturers in the U.S.

Despite what could have been a disastrous year, those companies have done quite well. Let's take a look at the industry and some of the new creations on the horizon.

No longer just Detroit

Historically, the U.S. automotive industry was confined to the Midwest, centered in Detroit. With the increasing popularity of import vehicles in the 1980s and 1990s, socioeconomic changes and advanced manufacturing technology, there came a decentralization of many suppliers and even some assembly plants.

According to MNI, compiler of the industrial data that powers IndustryNet, now the industry's 4,382 companies are more evenly distributed with 40% in the Midwest, 33% in the South, 19% in the West, and 8% in the Northeast.

Rising sales

The economic contribution of motor vehicle parts and accessory suppliers include $337.7 billion in sales and 400,791 jobs, both up compared with last year. Sales have seen a 3.61% increase and total jobs have risen by 3.16%.

Only 11 companies out of more than 4,300 have reported a decline in sales. That, despite the ongoing uncertainties associated with international trade caused by tariff and economic standoffs between the United States and China.


man in green shirt and safety glasses and ear plugs cross armed in factory


Truly Global Market

As expected, because of the nature of automobile assembly and sales, a substantial amount of distribution is interenational. At least 40% of motor vehicle parts are distributed internationally, compared with only 29% of the manufacturing industry overall. That leaves the motor vehicle parts industry exposed to significant disturbances in international trade.

Recently, relief in the form of a delay in automotive tariffs with Japan and the European Union has given new confidence to the industry. A robust used-parts market ensures that even if there is a decline in auto sales in the future, parts manufacturers will still have to produce large amounts of supplies and products.

Positive outlook

Another source of optimism is the wave of technology overtaking the automotive market. Autonomous and electric vehicles are the next big step in reducing emissions and improving safety, and to support that movement, radically new components are required.

In some cases, suppliers that traditionally have never supported automotive parts may become part of the supply chain.

Suppliers with a long history of building conventional parts are already engineering methods of integrating sensors and automated systems. Suppliers such as Bosch and Autoliv entered partnerships with chipmaker Nvidia to gain experience in the best ways of developing production-ready autonomous components for vehicles.

In addition, Bosch partnered with Daimler for access to test vehicles and tracks for their autonomous control modules and actuators.

Refining the state of the art

For existing models, much work is also underway to increase the efficiency and safety of internal-combustion vehicles. An example is ZF Transmission's Vector-Drive, which distributes torque automatically to either the right or left rear wheel, eliminating the need to brake during evasive maneuvers.

Other improvements on existing technologies include Nexteer Automotive's Electric Power Steering (EPS) systems. EPS has a significant advantages over hydraulic power steering, including lane-keeping and autosteer integration and far lower power demands. In fact, the amount of fuel saved by the 40 million units produced is enough to fill 6,000 Olympic-size swimming pools.

Finding automotive suppliers in the U.S. 

Motor vehicle parts suppliers continue to change with the times. One thing that does not is IndustryNet's commitment to providing relevant information about every company in the industry. IndustryNet's free online marketplace lists 400,000 U.S. manufacturers and suppliers of more than 10,000 products and services. Click here to see a full list of the nation's auto suppliers. 




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