The Aftermarket Can Take Advantage of Vehicle Data

Monday, April 19, 2021

By Chris Gardner, senior vice president, AASA

We sure have heard a lot about telematics and connected vehicles over the past few years – and for good reason. The penetration, spread and utilization of these technologies is headed our way quickly, so it only makes sense to prepare for it. If one seriously considers this, companies (and individuals) must be intentional about preparing for it to ensure future success.

The Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA) recently conducted a major research project with Roland Berger, a leading global market research and consulting firm, to identify business opportunities for our industry for vehicle-generated data. The study’s data shows a significant rise in connected vehicles and in connected parts, which will automatically lead to the generation, collection and flow of data. Data sources were categorized in the research along the following areas:

  • Vehicle Generated:
    • Diagnostics Data – DTCs through OBDII or from the CAN-BUS
    • Telematics Data – vehicle dynamics data for maintenance tracking and scheduling
  • Vehicle Architecture:
    • Component & CAN-BUS Data – access to embedded software for design, repairs and calibration

Roland Berger research revealed that suppliers project the digital or connected content of the components they produce will grow significantly over the next few years. Major shifts in content include:

  • Electronic or electromechanical – from 37% in 2020 to 61% in 2030
  • Have an ECU or semiconductor attached – from 29% in 2020 to 47% in 2030
  • Require software integration or flashing – from 26% in 2020 to 45% in 2030

This means that a significant number of parts and components will be communicating with other parts, the CAN-BUS and/or externally to a cloud-based network. Connected applications will be based on diagnostics data, component & CAN-BUS integration data, and telematics data. While automakers have published intentions to utilize telematics data for new services for vehicle owners, the automotive aftermarket has a plethora of opportunities that could help grow sales of existing products and create new revenue streams. 

Sample identified opportunities include:

  • New CRM tools for repair facilities to connect with their mini fleets – their customer base
  • Continued and enhanced ability to diagnose and repair vehicles
  • Monitoring part performance on vehicles to identify lifecycle or end-of-life to improve demand planning, improve supply chain and reduce excess inventories (something the industry has worked on for decades)
  • Monitoring part performance to enable suppliers to optimize design and engineering of parts, components and systems for future applications
  • Optimized product lineups with significant growth in sensors, electrification of parts, computer networks, etc.
  • Increased number of fleet management applications
  • New sales channels

Ensuring safe & secure access to data
Challenges to accessing and utilizing vehicle-generated data need to be resolved, of course. The right and ability to access this data must be ensured and guaranteed. Once this is accomplished, how is data standardized, normalized and digested for analytics and business intelligence (BI)? How does the industry ensure safe and secure access? Who should have access to vehicle systems and software?

The good news is that these challenges are being addressed through efforts by innovative companies and by your industry trade associations. There are numerous technology suppliers that have developed creative ways to utilize available vehicle data for fleet management, predictive analytics and unique services for motorists. Associations are fighting to ensure access through Right to Repair efforts in Massachusetts, advocating for federal legislation to ensure consumer choice and a fair/competitive marketplace in the future, and working on initiatives to ensure safe and secure access to vehicles and vehicle data.

Your associations are hard at work for you and the industry!

One challenge facing many companies in our industry is identifying how to prepare for the coming data tidal wave. Developing strategies for adapting to the new data flow environment, optimizing product portfolios and introducing new services based on real-time, bidirectional data all require new skill sets. Aftermarket companies need to acquire talent who can lead innovation efforts with the future connected vehicle in mind. Not easy – but necessary.

We have been shouting for a long time that the industry increasingly is becoming high-tech. There has to be a way to leverage this to attract more mechanical and electrical engineers, data scientists, computer engineers, system designers, BI experts and so forth. Securing individuals in these areas is essential to maintaining the U.S. vehicle fleet.

The next challenge is understanding the landscape of telematics players, cybersecurity providers, data analytics suppliers, sensor manufacturers and other emerging technology companies. Most successful aftermarket companies in the future will need to establish new business relationships to ensure they can adopt and grow with the connected vehicle. The technology changes too fast to develop new products around it organically and internally.

Developing your strategic plan
The first step in the learning curve to identifying new skill sets, understanding aftermarket applications for telematics and identifying some of the new players should be the development of a strategic plan for participating in AAPEX. Experiencing the following AAPEX areas will provide insights and uncover new contacts and relationships that could accelerate the learning curve:

  • Training and education on all things aftermarket, including the latest shop management technologies, several of which are connected to telematics-based CRM applications
  • Visiting displays from the leading manufacturers and suppliers of electronic components, sensors, Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) and other advanced technology products
  • Networking with executives and professionals from all levels of the supply chain and engaging in conversations about the future of open access to data
  • Checking out the Diagnostics & Telematics section in the all new Repair Shop HQ
  • Experiencing Joe’s Garage and its eight full bays, ADAS calibration demonstrations, diagnostics, full-size lifts and cutting edge shop technologies
  • Understanding how implementation of internationally recognized cybersecurity standards will ensure safe and secure access at the Auto Care Association / AASA bay in Joe’s Garage

The vehicle is changing, and the industry will adopt and thrive. Do not fear telematics and assume that as electric vehicle (EV) sales increase, connectivity will increase, and the aftermarket will wane. There are opportunities for innovative, energetic and intentional companies. Also, do not wait five years to develop strategies to address these opportunities. Find out more at AAPEX!