UK aftermarket to double by 2022

British motorists spend £21.1bn a year on servicing and repair, making UK cars among the most well-maintained in the world.

This is according to the first official analysis of the UK automotive aftermarket, commissioned and published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The Importance of the Aftermarket to the UK Economy reveals that UK consumers spend an average £695.39 on car maintenance every year – 12% higher than the average global spend per car of £621.62.

It also found that drivers have a wide choice of where and how they have their cars serviced, with more than 42,500 vehicle service and repair locations in the UK. Most of work (64%) is carried out by independently owned businesses, where parts and labour can be up to 65% and 45% lower respectively.

The report also reveals the UK automotive aftermarket, the fourth largest in Europe and eighth largest in the world, delivers an annual £12.2bn to the UK economy and supports more than 345,000 British jobs. By 2022 the UK aftermarket is projected to be worth £28bn with an employee base of around 400,000.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive said, ‘The UK’s aftermarket is one of the most competitive in the world and plays a critical role in keeping Britain’s 30 million-plus cars roadworthy. Robust competition and a strong independent sector have helped reduce the cost of vehicle ownership in the UK and provided greater choice to consumers. For this growth to be sustained, however, the sector must stay abreast of evolving vehicle technologies and changing mobility patterns.’

The way people buy and use cars is also changing, according to the report, with the shift from outright vehicle purchase to leasing, and a longer-term trend from car ownership to ‘usership’. This will require new business models for the aftermarket sector, while the new era of vehicle connectivity will also present opportunities for businesses prepared to embrace technological change.

By the same token, the digitisation of retailing is also having an impact on the way consumers’ needs are served, with motorists increasingly using the internet to compare prices and products and schedule maintenance work. However, the UK aftermarket is well placed to respond, with the highest penetration of online retail for automotive parts and services at seven per cent, ahead of Germany and France at five per cent and four per cent respectively.