The times, they are a changin’, but will we capitalize on them?

In the early 1980s, cars went from carburetors to fuel injection and it was widely accepted that the independent aftermarket was finished — vehicles would require dealership service and repair. Independents couldn’t handle them.

But as Mark Seng, of IHS, points out, the aftermarket did a good job of educating the consumer that it had the parts and technology with trained technicians required to fix those new systems.

Emerging technologies today necessitates the same playbook. Those who recognize the need for training and equipment investments, as well as market themselves as a service solution to the motoring public, will succeed moving forward. Those who don’t are out of business — they just don’t know it yet.

According to Joe Register, of the Auto Care Association, vehicle telematics has a significant revenue projection of $233 billion in intelligent transport systems, such as external infrastructure enabling geo-positioning, (where you’re located, how fast you’re traveling and how far you are from your destination, etc.).

There’s also a potential $57 billion in vehicle diagnostics and $30 billion in remote diagnostics.

The opportunity for getting into those technologies and provide solutions is very attractive, never mind also considering annual compound growth rates of 16-28 percent, Registrar says.

That’s some rapid growth. No wonder so many folks are interested in vehicle connectivity.

Some vehicles rolling off assembly lines today have as many as 10 sensors, just for ADAS alone (think lidar, radar, camera and ultrasonic systems).

The volume of data that’s traveling from all of a vehicle’s sensors are now measured in petabytes. In case you don’t know what a petabyte is, it’s a million gigabytes of information. Vehicle’s now have more data flowing through them than a fighter jet.

Register says parts manufacturers and distributors will be able to not only tap into a vehicle’s information to gauge a component’s performance as it gradually declines, but they will also know the outside temperature and altitude, for example, when a failure occurred. That’s valuable data. Similarly, the same access to a vehicle’s information gets it steered into a repair shop before a problem escalates — and have a part ordered and delivered in time for service. It represents an extraordinary opportunity for the aftermarket.

As with the transition from carburetors to fuel injection of yesterday, the aftermarket has new challenges and opportunities today. It’s up to us to make sure they’re tailwinds, not headwinds.

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.