Moving to capitalize on aftermarket rack sales, Toyota plans to distribute Yakima vehicle accessories to its dealer network, the automaker said Monday.
Yakima builds bike racks, cargo carriers and other aftermarket equipment. The company is a sales leader in an industry that is growing as more Americans take to the outdoors.
The move allows Toyota dealerships to offer one-stop shopping for its adventurous customers. Buyers will be able to drive off the lot with accessories already fitted directly to their new vehicle.
“Toyota customers have long been adventurous with active lifestyles, which makes them the perfect fit for Yakima products,” said Paul Holdridge, a vice president at Toyota.
Yakima is one of the most recognizable players in bike racks and accessories, a market that reached 1.1 million units sold in 2016, according to research firm Fior Markets. That is up from sales of 843,000 in 2012.
Toyota cited a study from the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association, or SEMA, that found nine out of 10 new vehicle buyers purchase accessories for their cars and trucks.
Automakers are eager to capitalize on the accessories market at the point of sale. About 80 percent of Yakima rack customers buy the product within six months of purchasing a new vehicle, according to Yakima spokesman Garrett Barnum.
The accessories are especially popular on light trucks, a category which includes crossovers, SUVs and pickup trucks.
The light trucks segment accounted for 67 percent of U.S. auto sales through the first two months of 2018, up from 62.5 percent during the same period in 2017, according to industry research firm Autodata Corp.
Some analysts believe the shift in consumer demand from smaller cars to larger light trucks is permanent.
Toyota’s own brand sales mirror the trend. The company’s light trucks account for 59 percent of its total sales so far in 2018, compared with 55 percent during the same period last year. Sales of Toyota light trucks have risen 17 percent compared with only a 1.1 percent increase for its small cars and sedans.
A key point of the partnership with Yakima is that Toyota customers will be able to roll the cost of the accessories into the financed price of the new vehicle.
Other automakers have employed a similar strategy. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles began an aggressive plan to make a wide array of Mopar accessories available on the newly-launched Jeep Wrangler and Ram 1500 models.