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Industry Information & Inquiries

In early 2020, ICA commissioned its first primary research study designed to quantify the size of the U.S. car wash industry. The study utilized actual market counting, and sampling based on population, car ownership and other factors, in order to create a view into the number and type of car wash locations. That effort identified the following number of retail car wash locations:

US: Type of Car Wash US: Total Locations 
 In-Bay Automatic / Roll-over 28,999 
 Conveyor  17,487
 Self Service 16,182 
Total   62,668

The study provides further information on locations by business type (gas station versus independent) and total number of wash bays. For more information, contact info@carwash.org

While there has not been a study done on the exact size of the global car wash industry, we have complied estimations for the following markets:

Type of Location  Europe (EU) Australia 
 In-Bay Automatic / Roll-over  50,000  1,600
 Self-Service  11,000  300
 Conveyor  8,000  50
 Total  69,000  1,950


Consumer Trends
In the mature markets of North America and Europe, consumers are increasingly preferring to have their cars washed for them versus doing it themselves. In the United States, the percentage of drivers that report most frequently washing their vehicle at a professional car wash has increased from approximately 48% in 1994 to more than 77% in 2019.

Ownership Profile

The majority of car wash locations in the United States are owned and operated by small to medium sized independent car wash companies. The market is highly fragmented, with the 100 largest conveyor car wash companies representing only 13% of total conveyor car wash locations - and the largest single operator representing less than 2% of locations.

In Europe, petroleum companies control the majority of the market in terms of locations, but the greatest growth is coming from independent conveyor car wash companies. The Australian market is closer in profile to North America, with the majority of sites owned by private entrepreneurs.

Employment
The professional car wash industry employs more than 220,000 full and part-time employees at retail stores and more than 15,000 in car wash equipment, chemical and service providing companies.

Retail Activity
More than 2 billion cars are washed each year in North America and nearly 1 billion in Europe. Car wash retail sales are approximately $15B in North America, €5B in Europe and A$1.5B in Australia. 

Supplier Activity
Gross sales of chemicals into the car wash market are nearly $1B annually in North America and €400M in Europe. Gross sales of car wash equipment and parts exceed $700M in North America and €400M in Europe.

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