Containerized imports of automotive parts rose 16 percent year-over-year in November, the 25th consecutive month of increased volume, PIERS data show.
November auto parts imports totaled 57,095 twenty-foot-equivalent units. Through the first 11 months of 2011, auto parts imports totaled 576,272 TEUs, a 23 increase from the same period in 2010 and more than the previous full-year peak of 2006.
“Strong retail sales of autos and a notable foreign-demand for U.S.-made motor vehicles bolstered manufacturing activity in 2011 and demand for auto parts,” said Journal of Commerce Economist Mario O. Moreno.
Parts imports also are benefiting from booming sales of aftermarket parts. The average age of U.S. vehicles reached a record 10.8 years last year, up 0.2 years from 2010, according to Polk, an automotive market research firm.
The average age of passenger cars rose from 11 years to 11.1 years while light trucks, including SUVs and pickups, increased from 10.1 years to an average of 10.4 years, according to Polk’s analysis of national vehicle registration data.
U.S. auto sales last year rose to 12.8 million vehicles from 11.6 million in 2010 and a 30-year low of 10.4 million in 2009. Polk forecasts about 13.7 million in sales this year, rising by about 1 million per year through 2015. U.S. sales peaked at 17 million in 2005.
Moreno said he expects auto imports to post a percentage rise in the mid- to high single digits in 2012, driven by robust domestic demand but that double-digit increases like last year’s appear unlikely.