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Key Facts and Statistics in the U.S. Transportation Equipment Industry

Posted by IndustrySelect on Tuesday, October 10, 2023

 Key Facts and Trends in U.S. Transportation Equipment Manufacturing


Average yearly sales of $2 trillion make the transportation equipment industry a significant portion of the U.S. economy. This sector of manufacturing encompasses any machinery that transports people or goods. It includes everything from bicycles to jet planes. You will see many processes employed in producing this equipment, including bending, welding, forming, machining, and assembly.

The many subsectors of this segment afford you sales opportunities for a wide array of materials and parts. Transportation equipment also offers you an impressive marketplace for assemblies and subassemblies—more so than with machinery in general.

Key Trends in the U.S. Transportation Equipment Industry 

As a segment of U.S. manufacturing, some transportation equipment statistics are similar to the entire sector. You will find, however, that others vary in notable ways. While minority ownership, at 1%, is the same for both, woman-owned businesses make up 2% of total manufacturing but only 1% of transportation equipment. This segment imports 14% of its materials, compared to 11% for manufacturing as a whole. Most striking is the difference in international distribution: 42% for transportation equipment versus only 29% for total manufacturing. A larger slice of transportation equipment companies are publicly owned, at 12%, compared to 5% of all manufacturers.

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The 10,676 transportation equipment companies provide 1,384,471 jobs, up 1.58% over the previous year. These businesses offer you sales targets throughout the country. The largest percentage of transportation equipment companies locate their facilities in the South and Midwest, at 34% and 31%, respectively. For the most part, these numbers track the states with the largest production of cars and car parts. With 23% housed in the West and 12% in the Northeast, these areas still present prospecting possibilities. For example, you can find die molding in New York and automotive trim in Massachusetts.

Electric vehicle production is concentrated in California. You can find bicycle manufacturers in states around the country, including Oregon, Colorado, and Minnesota. You can develop a shipbuilding clientele in Maine, California, Wisconsin, Tennessee, North Carolina, and many other states. Every subindustry has unique needs that an effective sales force can fill.

The Subindustries

The transportation equipment segment covers seven subindustries. With the trend toward onshoring, whether you sell resins or rugs, at least one should offer an opening for a domestic supplier.

Motor Vehicles and Equipment

Forecasters predict that by the close of 2023, Americans will buy 15 million new vehicles. These include cars and light trucks. One million electric vehicles will contribute to the sales boom. Positioning yourself to supply car and truck manufacturers looks like a good bet.

Aircraft and Parts

Following serious supply chain difficulties, this subindustry also expects to see growth. The aircraft engine market looks particularly promising. Part sales are rising in primary and secondary markets. Demand for spares draws increasing interest. You may find this an excellent time to offer them.

Ship and Boat Building and Repairing

The global market for this subindustry grew 8.4% annually over the past year. Future growth is expected to slow to 7.9% through 2027. Still, these are exciting marketplace statistics.

Railroad Equipment

After suffering hard times through the pandemic, railroad equipment is barreling ahead. The subindustry has strong concerns about sustainability. If you offer products or services to address that issue, the time may be right to penetrate this market.

Motorcycles, Bicycles and Parts

Several factors drive growth in this industry. They include traffic congestion, fuel prices, and the demand for sustainability. Increasing consumer interest in electric bikes spurs sales. While this is another subindustry that suffered from supply chain blockages during the pandemic, its recovery appears strong.

Guided Missiles, Space Vehicles and Parts

Predictions have the global market growing at 3.5% annually through 2028. Increased investment in space exploration drives demand. Microsatellites also find a rising market. New technology development will be your key to becoming a supplier.

Miscellaneous Transportation Equipment

This subindustry includes vehicles and accessories such as travel trailers, campers, and tanks. Recreational vehicle sales are down due to consumers' fears about the economy. This trend is projected to reverse in 2024, but at present, this subindustry may not be your first choice for a market to tackle.

Outlook for the U.S. Transportation Equipment Industry

While general manufacturing shrank in August 2023, transportation equipment grew. Manufacturers adjusted their production to better match demand, decreasing excessive inventory costs. Even with moderating orders, producers were shipping at top capacity.

The automotive industry prepared for a UAW strike, keeping volume high. This increased the demand for the parts, materials, and assemblies required to produce the vehicles.

If you are looking for an uptick, you can find it in a market that doesn't readily come to mind. Demand for hydrogen transportation equipment is on the rise. Many view hydrogen as a clean alternative to fossil fuels. Still, its transportation involves significant challenges. Chilled liquid tanks and pressurized tanks offer an alternative to pressurized pipelines.

Each method is most effective under specific conditions. Pressurized tanks are best for short hauls. Chilled liquid tanks cost less to use for greater distances. Transportation aboard a ship offers an option, as does mixing hydrogen with natural gas.

Since these technologies are in the developmental stage, they are wide open for innovation. If your company prefers to get in on the ground floor of a market, hydrogen transportation equipment could be a good place to start.

Transportation equipment continues to incorporate new technologies. Autonomous vehicles top the list. Next comes green energy, of which hydrogen is a part. Electric mobility follows, along with artificial intelligence. The Internet of Things (IoT) already has a place in transportation and continues its penetration. Suppliers who support any of these innovations will have ample prospecting fields to explore.

Reaching Out

Your ability to exploit the opportunities in the transportation equipment industry hinges on making the right contacts at the right time. IndustrySelect can help. With a subscription, you can access complete and up-to-date profiles of companies with needs that match your offerings. You will get locations, competitors, and, most importantly, contact information, including the emails of executives who can close a deal. Try a free demo today and see how far transportation equipment can take you.

Want to keep up with the latest sales and marketing trends and exclusive industrial statistics from MNI? The free weekly IndustrySelect Insider email is the industry's top source for sales, marketing and industrial news you can't find anywhere else. Subscribe here.

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