Industry Collaboration Fuels Long-term Gains for the Aftermarket

Monday, July 20, 2020

By Mike Tanner, director, vehicle communications, Auto Care Association

The technology surrounding and within vehicles continues to expand rapidly. This means that the aftermarket needs to be even more attune to these changes than ever before. We are working to identify and monitor these technologies and assess how they will impact the automotive aftermarket.

Recent success in working within standards bodies has demonstrated that we can gain the attention of automakers, government and other industry entities and affect positive change for the automotive aftermarket. An example of this success is the work within SAE to establish advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) calibration standards, which will move towards improving safety and reducing costs to the consumer, and reducing equipment costs, improving efficiency and thereby allowing the aftermarket to compete on a level playing field.

But being reactive to change rather than being involved in change is not the best position for the aftermarket. The aftermarket needs to be able to perform long-term planning in order to prepare for these new technologies. It is clear that automotive manufacturers are not always considering  what happens to the vehicle once it is out of warranty and the support that will be required to maintain these vehicles in the long-term. That means that it is imperative that the aftermarket be involved in the standards bodies to influence and adapt to these new technologies by ensuring that the aftermarket is included as a stakeholder. 

The Auto Care Association has made the investment and the emerging technologies team, along with its members and partners, have been working to inform and prepare the aftermarket to not only survive, but to thrive in the future transportation ecosystem. Our long-term effort to ensure the aftermarket has fair access to vehicle data in a safe, secure and direct manner is another example. The aftermarket must not be inhibited from offering services to its customers. And that means the aftermarket must have direct access to their customers and necessary diagnostic data. Increased costs or impacts to productivity that make it impossible for the aftermarket to compete must be avoided. 

For the aftermarket to compete in the future automated and connected vehicle marketplace the aftermarket must be included in the future transportation ecosystem during the initial planning stages. The aftermarket’s inclusion in standards bodies like SAE, ISO and IEEE will provide additional insight into what is coming and the ability to influence standards that affect and include the aftermarket. As we have experienced with ADAS calibration, not including the aftermarket in the planning and development of new vehicle technologies can be a safety issue as well as an enormous cost issue.  

The current vehicle has well over a hundred electronic control units (ECUs) and now there are plans to combine those ECUs into a single high-powered multi-core processor where ECUs are partitioned into virtual machines managed by hypervisors.

The aftermarket must start evaluating and planning accordingly. Technological changes at this scale does not reduce the need for service, but will likely result in an increased need for service simply due to the complexities associated with the technology if the similar transition of the avionics industry is any indication.  

At AAPEX 2020, the Auto Care Association and our partners will inform attendees about some of the new emerging technologies and how they are already affecting or will affect the automotive aftermarket. We will showcase some of the successes we have had and the challenges we face, along with how you can get involved to support this tremendous future that we face together.

Mike Tanner is the director, vehicle communications at the Auto Care Association. In this role, he serves as the association’s lead technical subject matter expert for vehicle connectivity related projects and initiatives, including conducting field testing and inspection of products and services related to proof of concept implementations, liaising with Standard Developing Organizations (SDO) and the creation of technical reports and design recommendations for SDO related projects.