Auto Service World
Feature   December 1, 2013   by Tom Venetis, Editor

What’s to Come in the New Year

December is the time when tradition dictates that we make furtive attempts at prediction.

December is the time when tradition dictates that we make furtive attempts at prediction.

What will likely continue is an increasing number of new models and major model redesigns coming to market as vehicle makers look to capture aging boomers and millennials. Polk finds that from 2010 to 2012, 150 new vehicle models and major redesigns were introduced into the North American market. Between 2013 and 2015, there will be a 70 per cent increase, with some 260 new vehicle models and major redesigns introduced.

With new fuel efficiency standards, there will be increasing complexity in vehicle electronics along with new engine designs. By-wire technologies, now part of luxury and hybrid vehicles, will begin to be seen in more mid-range vehicles, again to help in fuel efficiency. This will place challenges on technicians and independents that will need to invest in new training and advanced diagnostic tools.

Continued economic uncertainty and global political trends will make themselves felt in vehicle ownership and driving habits. The economic recovery both in Europe and North America continues to be sluggish with stubbornly high unemployment. Vehicle age will continue to trend upwards with people investing more in maintenance and repair. Political uncertainty in the Middle East will precipitate in widely fluctuating gasoline prices that will impact driving habits. If prices spike, people will park their cars.

Telematics is going to have the biggest impact on the aftermarket. Telematics provides technicians with detailed and real-time vehicle information that will be needed to effectively diagnose problems and improve vehicle maintenance. The challenge for the aftermarket is many of these systems are being designed as a closed loop, the information only accessible to authorized dealer technicians and needing specialized tools to access the onboard systems. This locks vehicle owners to the dealership networks. J.D Power and Associates has several studies showing vehicle service experience influences decisions on where service dollars will be spent. If telematics remains a closed loop environment, those service dollars will remain in greater numbers with authorized dealer service operations.

Demographics will change the aftermarket as well. There is the shift from the boomer generation to millennials and their differing views of what quality service is and how each wants communications with them to be done. Then there is the changing ethnic face of major cities with challenges of how to reach out to new Canadians and their communities. Independents will need to be sensitive to these changes if they wish to succeed in the coming years.

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