Impact of technology on aftermarket highlighted at AAPEX

by | Feb 20, 2018 | 0 comments

While the thousands of exhibitors at AAPEX 2017 certainly saw their share of visits from the 50,000 assembled buyers, it was the robust educational program that earned the attention of many.

As the aftermarket grapples with the present and future demands of rapidly evolving technologies, sessions on topics like autonomous vehicles and the connected car were in heavy demand.

The new, daily keynote sessions introduced at the Las Vegas event last November provided expert insight, data and market intelligence on The Future of the Vehicle – “The Future of Mobility and the Aftermarket;” The Future of the Buyer – “Navigating Omni-channel Successfully;” and The Future of the Shop – “Grease, Code and Customers: You’re Entirely Right About All the Wrong Stuff.”

In the first of three keynote sessions, speaker Neal Ganguli, automotive supplier consulting leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP, focused on the future of the mobility and the impact on the automotive aftermarket value chain.

Speaker Neal Ganguli.

“There are disruptive consumer, economic and technology trends that each of you have been dealing with for many years,” said Ganguli. “What is unique right now is that several key ones that drive transformation – consumer preferences, regulatory forces, economics, and technological advancement – are converging together, and that has the potential to drive huge transformation.”

Dividing the topic into vehicle control and vehicle ownership he identified the future states of mobility as: personally owned, driver driven; shared driver driven; personally owned autonomous; and shared autonomous. “These future states represent the main ways individuals will travel for personal mobility needs,” said Ganguli. He explained that the rise of shared and autonomous will drive down cost-per-mile economics and that these four states will coexist. “Companies need to plan to compete in some or all of them,” he added.

Tyler Reeves, Interstate Batteries, opened the Future of the Shop keynote session at AAPEX 2017 by stating, “Tomorrow’s auto repair shop will serve the youngest consumers with the oldest cars, and these consumers will have access to the most information with the least amount of context.”

Reeves explained that millennials are driving vehicles that are eight to 11 years old, in 83

A key panel discussion laid out the challenges for the aftermarket.

makes and 1,700 models. Baby boomers by comparison drove vehicles in the five to seven year range, in 47 makes and 485 models. In addition, 70 percent of consumers today believe they can find everything on the Internet.


“This means shops and suppliers have the opportunity to lean in, listen, clarify and educate to effectively build loyalty with these customers,” said Reeves. “Technicians will be considered super users of devices and services to help serve customers.”

With so much technology coming at shops, Reeves and panelist Chris Cloutier, Golden Rule Auto Care, suggested automotive service professionals embrace technology by hiring smart people, learning from other industries and trying new things. “As important, start educating yourself about technology,” said Cloutier.

Cloutier stated one of the biggest problems faced by shops is finding the time for training. He encouraged audience members to create a training culture and to make sure they are trained as leaders.

Chris Blanchette, Bridgestone, said the declining population of technicians, declining enrollment in the trade and technicians leaving the industry present significant challenges. “The technician of tomorrow is not currently in the shop or bay. They are somewhere else with a spark for automotive,” said Blanchette. “We are a high-tech industry and a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education feeds right into that, even if it means looking at 13, 14 and 15 year-olds enrolled in these programs as our future technicians.”

He added that curiosity, ethics, drive, attitude and aptitude are important when hiring, in addition to skills.

With a sold out trade show, hundreds of new product announcements and innovative programs to show the impact of technology, AAPEX 2017 provided automotive aftermarket professionals with the tools to stay ahead of the curve and prepare for the opportunities and challenges ahead.

New AAPEX programs included Mobility Park, Technology Intersection, Let’s Tech presentations and AAPEXedu technology sessions.

AAPEX 2018 will be held Tuesday, Oct. 30 through Thursday, Nov. 1, at the Sands Expo, Las Vegas. To be notified when registration opens, sign up at

AAPEX is co-owned by the Auto Care Association and the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA), the light vehicle aftermarket division of the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA). For more information, visit or e-mail: On social media, follow AAPEX at #AAPEX18.

Challenges Ahead in Mobility

In his presentation on the future of mobility, speaker Neal Ganguli outlined the challenges ahead:

  • Parts manufacturers need to consider shift in content and usage cycles, presenting both risks, as well as opportunities,
  • OEMs are figuring out ways to extend their service footprint to consumers
  • Dealers and independent retailers are trying to reconfigure their value propositions to deal with direct online channels and the rise of “subscription model” services, rather than providing one-time parts/service purchases
  • And consumers have a plethora of choices – it’s all about economics, speed and convenience.


Check out the full January/February Indie Garage lineup and Digital Edition.






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