As the automotive aftermarket puts 2020 in the rear-view mirror, significant shifts will continue to shape the industry for the coming year and beyond.
Here are three top-of-mind-trends that aftermarket organizations should consider.
Mileage shifts and maintenance
As many Canadian drivers will continue to use their cars less due to continuing work-from-home edicts–a reality that can be expected to be with us for some time even as vaccinations roll-out over the coming months-–the shift in mileage, or rather the increase in idle times for personal transportation, will present shifts in the drivers for vehicle service from mileage driven to time driven.
While the true impact of this will be difficult to track, service areas like battery replacement and brake service driven by lack of use rather than wear are two examples.
Shops should get plans in place communicate with their customer base the need to maintain their vehicles throughout the winter months even as their driving habits may have dropped off.
On the flipside, is the increase in delivery vehicle usage. As volumes for household deliveries of everything from office supplies to meals continues at record pace, those vehicles are seeing significant increases in usage. Fleet and casual/part-time delivery customers should be advised to be extra vigilant about their maintenance as a result.
E-Commerce and non-contact customer service
There is no question that the need to conduct business with as little personal contact as possible has become critical in a time where many customers are concerned for their health and wellbeing, as are the staff at aftermarket businesses.
Many aftermarket businesses pivoted admirably quickly through the spring of 2020 as COVID-19 related restrictions took hold, and have continued to adjust as restrictions come and go in regions across Canada.
Many operations saw massive increases in e-commerce over the ensuing months, and those who were technologically equipped were able to handle these shifts relatively seamlessly, while many others were able to cobble together systems that worked.
And of course, at the service level, the increase in digital vehicle inspection usage and valet services are perhaps the most visible evidence.
For those who put off investments in their ability to serve customers virtually in the hopes that its would-be short-term situation, the realization must certainly be clear now that customers will from here on be looking for options that allow them to do much, if not all, of their purchases of goods and services online, even if they still opt to do visit in person for face-to-face interaction in some cases.
EV investment confirms their future
For reasons not directly related to the pandemic, but nonetheless lumped in due to timing, shifts by automakers to increased EV production that have been years in the making are coming.
Massive increase in investment in Canada– an agreement between Ford Motor Co. and Uniform, Canada’s largest union, will see nearly $2 billion go toward the production of five EV models in Oakville, Ont. and A separate $1.5-billion deal between Unifor and Fiat Chrysler also targets EV production, creating 2,000 jobs at the latter’s Windsor, Ont.-based plant.—echoes similar moves in the U.S. and worldwide.
While it is certainly the case that the it will take years for EVs to dominate the population of vehicles in operation, with hybrids bridging the gap, ICE vehicle production facilities have started to be considered “stranded assets.”
Regardless of any debates over the environmental merits, the signal is clear that investment has shifted to new technologies, and aftermarket players should cast doubts aside that EVs and related technologies will shape its future.
CHAT Integrated Media, publishers of Indie Garage and Jobber Nation and creators of the Great Canadian Aftermarket Trade Show Virtual Event and the Great Canadian Aftermarket Podcast now launching, wish everyone a safe and happy New Years Eve, and a prosperous and healthy 2021!