By George Polgar

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — While the auto market has hit healthy high-level plateau, a report just issued by Delaware-based Global Market Insights Inc. says automotive aftermarket business is projected to hit $680 billion annually worldwide by 2024.

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In addition to a growing demand for parts reflecting the surge in car ownership in the emerging markets of China, India, Africa and South America, the report says the dramatic doubling of current volume also reflects “a shifting consumer preference towards vehicle comfort, enhancing efficiency and customization for aesthetically pleasant vehicles.”

Regionally, the enormous potential of the automotive aftermarket has fueled the spectacular growth of companies like Auto Parts Warehouse which maintains an inventory of some $70 million in parts which it distributes wholesale to the professional installer market – service and repair shops, auto service franchises and even new car dealerships for their trade-in vehicles.

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According to Steve Thorne, who founded the company 25 years ago with two used trucks and a handful of employees, and now employs over 1,200 people at 36 locations in Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Auto Parts Warehouse is the meat and potatoes part of the automotive food chain.

Thorne says the sweet spot of his business is the base of cars from 5 to 8 years old, on their second and third owners, which are in need of basic replacement parts that have worn out.

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The rising profile of electric cars according to Thorne could actually depress the volume of the traditional aftermarket because electric cars simply have fewer parts subject to wear and needing replacement.