"With more than 170 cars and light trucks in the U.S. for every service bay, there is a growing vehicle repair crisis facing America," reported James A. Lang, president of Lang Marketing Resources, Inc., (www.langmarketing.com
), a Wyckoff, New Jersey research and consulting firm specializing in the Vehicle Products Industry. "More than 55,000 car and light truck service bays have been shuttered over the past ten years," stated Lang. "At mid-year 2001, there were 1,226,000 service bays op-erated by outlets repairing cars and light trucks compared to 1,282,000 service bays ten years earlier." "While the population of service bays steadily declines, the number of cars and light trucks on U.S. roads continues to climb," noted Lang. "From 175 million cars and light trucks in 1991, there are over 206 million light vehicles in operation today." Although service stations and garages operate the largest number of service bays in the U.S., they suffered the greatest decline in service bay count over the past ten years, with the loss of more than 105,000 bays, according to Lang. Vehicle dealers declined only slightly in service bay population, while specialty repair shops, foreign specialists, and tire stores each expanded their service bay count, combining for an increase of more than 60,000 service bays between 1992 and 2002. Even so, the total light vehicle service bay population declined nearly 5 percent over the past ten years. "And the situation will grow worse," predicted Lang. "By 2005 there could be more than 180 cars and light trucks for every service bay in the U.S. That would be a 35 percent increase compared to 1992 when there were 138 vehicles per service bay." The growing number of vehicles per service bay is contributing to a decline in maintenance levels among vehicles on U.S. roads as necessary vehicle service goes unperformed, according to Lang. This has significant implications for highway safety, fuel conservation and pollution control, noted Lang. "While a cause for concern, the growing number of vehicles relative to service bays points to opportunities for niche marketing of vehicle repair shops and services," he added. This analysis is from the 2002 Aftermarket Annual, a 122-page report by Lang Marketing covering the entire aftermarket, with special emphasis on car and light truck product use and service. The report covers a wide range of topics from distribution to service and parts outlet performance, the changing mix and age of vehicles in operation, the fast-growing foreign vehicle aftermarket, light trucks, as well as many other critical issues. For more infor-mation, contact Lang Marketing Resources, Inc., P.O. Box 32, Wyckoff, New Jersey 07481, call (201) 652-5220, fax (201) 652-5324.