The numbers are in, and they add up to lots of work for dealerships' service and parts departments.
In the short term, bad weather across much of the U.S. could boost business. Analysts at Jefferies Equity Research, in the firm's January "Autos/Automotive Aftermarket Monthly Tune-up," noted that colder temperatures in December drove stronger-than-expected demand. The report added that in January, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — the nation's weather service — was predicting "below-average temperatures for most of the Eastern and Central regions."
The thesis is simple: Bad, icy weather brings fender benders, potholes or worse. And snowbound consumers who defer routine maintenance end up triggering the old rule of "pay now or pay more later."
Longer term, the stats also imply strong demand. More vehicles are coming off warranty, raising the prospect for higher-margin customer-pay work, if dealerships can capture it. And a key indicator of vehicle wear and tear — vehicle miles traveled per household — continues to rebound from 2013's low.
Here's a look at some key statistics with implications for fixed operations.