As advanced technologies and the increased complexity of vehicles change “business as usual” in the automotive aftermarket, new strategies are needed for the industry’s continued growth and success, according to Bill Long, AASA president and chief operating officer. He spoke on “New Aftermarket Realities: Strategic Shifts and Where Do We Go from Here” to an audience of aftermarket parts manufacturers, jobbers, warehouse distributors and retailers at the CAWA Summer Educational Forum, held June 22-23 in San Diego.
“It is an undeniable reality that it’s anything but business as usual in the aftermarket today,” said Long. “A new and different aftermarket isn’t coming, it’s here. The road ahead will require collaboration, a shared-vision and a plan for securing our future in the connected aftermarket.”
Long focused on the steps that the aftermarket must take to achieve the desired outcome of optimizing the industry’s ability to leverage telematics. He cited comments regarding telematics from AASA’s “Voice of the Customer/Talk for the Top” conversations with top executives at the leading aftermarket retailers and warehouse distributors. These industry leaders cited the vital need to have access to vehicle data to ensure motorists’ freedom of repair choice. “Vehicle owners’ freedom of choice is both an existential threat to the aftermarket and an opportunity,” said Long.
“At AASA, we see four clear steps forward to securing our futures,” explained Long. “First, we must be clear about what we want – access to the vehicle that offers motorists freedom of choice for vehicle repair and service parts, and access and use of parts and equipment-enabling software necessary to allow motorists’ freedom of choice.”
The second step is to advance the aftermarket industry’s technical solution, according to Long. These include:
- Secure vehicle interface: encouraging/leading Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) working groups, believed to be required for Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)
- Regulatory actions: software-enabled copyrights and aftermarket data privacy principles
- Legislative actions: Federal legislation as last option
- Business models: Investigate existing/evolving business models
“Finding technical and business solutions are far more valuable and effective, for these technologies will only evolve requiring continued change and update,” noted Long.
The third step he highlighted in the address is telematics training and certification for technicians and independent repair shops. “Technicians and shops need training and certification to ensure safe access to vehicle and to be able to secure and protect data privacy,” said Long. The fourth step is raising awareness. “Industry events are vital platforms for continuing industry dialogue among all partners in the aftermarket supply chain,” he said.
Long noted the industry’s strong market fundamentals, which has led to a strong, stable and attractive $277 billion aftermarket. “This is truly a great industry to be a part of. We produce the parts that enable the continued freedom of mobility for millions of motorists.”