Parts is Parts… Or Is It $Opportunity$ for Struggling OEMs?

While new vehicle sales continue to plunge, OEMs must look for other avenues to recover their losses. Could the parts and service divisions be the answer? In part, yes. Shoppers are looking for their next new vehicle less according to Compete’s monthly "in-market shopper" metrics (down 15% from April last year, not shown), but evidently, are researching parts more. Compete analyzed the number of prospects researching for automotive parts and found that year-over-year, 36% more consumers are visiting parts websites, suggesting they may be looking to replace the parts before they replace the car.

What does this translate to for vehicle manufacturers? $$Opportunity$$. But where do manufacturers stand today against independent parts retailers — their direct competition for parts sales? Unfortunately, not very well if you measure it by the % of prospects that look for parts on manufacturers’ parts brand websites versus leading independent parts supplier websites.

Compete chose to look at Dodge, Ford and Chevy in this study. appears to be stealing opportunity from all three manufactures. Dodge prospects are more than twice as likely to look for parts at as opposed to For Ford, it’s worse — consumers are more than three times more likely to look for parts on; and for Chevrolet — it’s simply dismal. Chevrolet prospects simply are not using as a resource to find parts.

However, OEMs do not appear to be using key tools to drive traffic to their parts brand websites. Table 2 identifies the top 10 domains referred by key part search terms that logically, should drive traffic to, or

Compete’s Keyword Destination Search Analytics identified that all three searches on branded parts resulted in referrals to independent parts websites. Nowhere in the top-10 are each manufacturer’s branded parts websites.

It is evident that OEMs are losing parts sales opportunity to key independents — opportunity that may help relieve some of the pain of lost profits from declining new vehicle sales. The challenge: how to capture or recover the lost opportunity from the independents. OEMs have work to do, but it can be done.

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