Aftermarket shops can seize opportunity in remote vehicle data
San Diego—Multi-shop owner Jim Dykstra entered the telematics arena five years ago because he determined the technology was “going to be a driver or a stumbling block” for his business. He is now also the director of Telematics at Innova Telematics Solutions.
“Shops live and die by vehicle data, whether it’s diagnostic codes or something as simple as odometer mileage,” he said during a presentation, “Remote Vehicle Data-Access and Opportunity for the Aftermarket,” at the CAWA Summer Educational Forum in San Diego.
“Everything we do to sell parts and labor is driven by vehicle data, but now, the main difference today, is that the data is becoming remote.”
Telematics or, as Dykstra prefers to call it from a shop perspective, “remote vehicle data,” is the growing technology that will ultimately lead to autonomous vehicles and aftermarket opportunities for those shops that are prepared to seize them.
The maintenance cycle of an autonomous car, for example, will be an asset for the aftermarket, he said. “Brake jobs won’t fall by the wayside. Every interval will be followed. Autonomous vehicles will drive business into our bays, so long as our bays are able to service them. The key is to educate customers that independent shops can service their cars with the new technologies.”
How remote vehicle data works
Vehicle data is — and increasingly will be — transmitted to infrastructure, known as V2I (vehicle to infrastructure), such as stoplights, and to other vehicles, V2V (vehicle to vehicle), as vehicles become increasingly autonomous, Dykstra said.
“For autonomous vehicles to fully function they need a connected infrastructure [Intelligent Transportation System (ITS)]. While OEMs have said they will launch autonomous vehicles by 2022, they won’t be as autonomous as they would have us believe without the necessary infrastructure to transmit the data.”
There are two different kinds of data: aftermarket data sourced through a dongle and OEM-embedded data, such as OnStar, that transmit data. “However, there’s a big difference between vehicle health data and ‘driver behavior and profile’ data. From a legal perspective, the driver data is not what shops want to see, but the aftermarket does want to know when a service or maintenance concern arrives from the vehicle data.”
Vehicles are reaching a technological stage where they can inform, not only shops, but also owners of their service and maintenance needs, Dykstra said.
“A car can now tell a customer when there’s an issue, so it’s not just the shop informing them of an problem. Consumers, in general, are getting used to appliances — and cars — giving them notifications, so instead of a shop telling a customer they need an O2 sensor, the vehicle is letting them know. While shops don’t have to go through the process of diagnosing a problem, they can offer service via smartphones with opportunities such as offering coupons and promoting quality and warranties. When consumers see that on their phone in real-time, it’s a big deal — that’s how shops can ‘play in the space’ of remote vehicle data.”
There’s more than $60 billion in unperformed maintenance — or 27 percent of total aftermarket potential — according to AASA, and 80 percent of parts installed are for DIFM consumers, he said. “That’s the bread and butter that remote vehicle data is going to bring to the aftermarket. All the maintenance that a shop is unable to sell will be sold because the car is selling it.”
Remote vehicle data and subsequent revenue from unperformed maintenance pays for the investment Dykstra’s shops make to subsidize customer vehicle connectivity through dongles. “We have fleets connected for which we’re paying a portion of their connectivity and the investment comes back tenfold, because we’ve become a partner to help them take care of those vehicles.”
There’s also $2 billion in unperformed maintenance that causes accidents, according to the Car Care Council. However, the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) and connected vehicles will change that, he said. “In 10 years, there will be requirements for maintenance and inspections on connected cars tied to ITS — more opportunity for the aftermarket.”
In order for ITS to properly function, many vehicles must be connected to it, but the average age of today’s cars hovers around 12 years, so it will take too long for shops to reap the benefits of ITS if they wait for all the new cars to be connected, Dykstra said. A secure vehicle interface (SVI) is a standard that has been developed for vehicle information access, which was designed to be able to function as a retrofit solution so hardware can be installed in an older car to be able to communicate with the ITS.
“If states mandate that vehicles must be retrofitted [to be compliant with the ITS], then vehicle owners will turn to the aftermarket — retrofitting will become a ‘need’ in order for ITS to work.”
Prognostics up and coming
There will be advancement in prognostics, so that shops will be able to identify vehicle issues before they become problems. “When we obtain data from 50,000 connected Ford F-150s, we can examine the analytics and patterns and inform customers of the concerns before there’s a failure,” Dykstra said.
Distributors will also naturally benefit, as they will be able to identify needed replacement parts in advance and stock and prepare inventory. “These will be realized not in 10 years, but just a few years, for shops and distributors to integrate into their systems and operations,” he said.
Manufacturers can also use the data to determine what their engineering departments should be focusing on based on failure patterns, as well as collect information to develop warranties.
“At Innova, we’re seeing that many of the newer vehicles have data points for brake pad wear, which we become informed of through data bus alerts,” Dykstra said. “When the car tells the owner that its brakes pads are low, the aftermarket has to be ready so the service doesn’t go to the OEs.
“There’s going to a lot of money on the table for the aftermarket in the next five to 10 years, from designing and building a compliant retrofitted device to installing it and certifying it.”