Last week our team participated in the 2018 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Every year over 70,000 automotive aftermarket business professionals gather in Vegas to learn about the latest industry trends, check out new technology, shop for products, and see some truly impressive vehicles on display. We’ve had a booth at the SEMA show for the past few years, and it’s definitely become one of our can’t-miss events. If you weren’t able to make it to Vegas this year, here are the five big takeaways all automotive aftermarket businesses should be aware of, based on one of our favorite seminars by Mark Seng of IHS Markit at AAPEX 2018 (SEMA’s sister show).
1. Don’t Worry About Electric Vehicles – at Least Not Yet
According to Mark and the data analysis team at IHS Markit, despite the growing hype around all-electric vehicles, we’re still many years away from a major shift in the automotive market. The IHS team attributes this slow growth in all-electric vehicles to significant changes in consumer mindset and buying habits that need to take place, changes that won’t happen overnight. Aftermarket companies should focus instead on developing familiarity with hybrids and other all-electric precursors already on the market so that they are ready when the electric shift comes.
2. Don’t Worry About Autonomous Vehicles, Either
The autonomous vehicle market paints a similar picture – despite increased media buzz, the automotive aftermarket is still several decades away from autonomous vehicles making up a significant portion of their customer base. In order for fully autonomous vehicles to go mainstream, the costs and risks associated with the technology have to decrease significantly. However, auto repair shops should focus on developing the skills and technology necessary to competently service these types of vehicles now. Independent repair shops will be fighting an uphill battle to prove to consumers that they are just as skilled as the dealerships when it comes to servicing this next generation of automobile.
3. CUVs and Imports are King
The mix of vehicles on the road today is changing – which in turn is changing the types of vehicles auto repair shops deal with. Crossover utility vehicles (CUVs) are taking the market by storm as sedans lose serious ground to these more versatile alternatives. Imports are also making great strides against domestic makes, and over at least the next seven years most cars sold will be imports. If your technicians are only skilled in servicing domestic makes and models, your shop is going to quickly fall behind.
4. New Vehicle Sales are Setting Records but Leveling Off
There’s some great news coming out of the SEMA Show for the automotive aftermarket – American consumers are still setting records year after year for the number of new vehicles purchased. Although the rate of growth is slowing down, more and more vehicles are hitting the road every year. That’s great news for the auto repair industry, especially as those vehicles start to age out of their warranties.
5. America’s Vehicle Population is Aging
In another great bit of news for the automotive aftermarket, Americans are keeping their cars and light trucks on the road longer. Owners of older vehicles will be more likely to seek out independent repair shops as opposed to dealerships, and older vehicles may need more frequent and costly repairs. One word of caution: instead of working on vehicles owned by their second or third owner, you’ll be dealing with vehicles that are on their fourth or fifth. These owners will be less likely to pay big bucks to repair their aging vehicles and may decide to trade up instead.
See You Next Year?
We’re already looking forward to the 2019 SEMA Show! Next year’s event will take place November 5-8 (after Halloween so you’ll have no excuse to miss out), and we will be there. In the meantime, we’re working on fulfilling our goal of becoming the leading credit card processor for the automotive industry. If you want to learn more about what that means, give us a call at 408-295-8360 or drop us a line on our website. We’d love to show your shop how we do things around here.
PS – If you don’t use an auto shop management software yet, we think this article might just change your mind.
PPS – Thinking about adding a digital vehicle inspection tool to your arsenal? Here’s why that’s a great idea.