Automotive Aftermarket predicted to remain strong, though businesses will need to evolve

The future of the Automotive Aftermarket sector is strong – that’s the prediction of a panel of business leaders who discussed the state of the industry during the recent Australian Auto Aftermarket Expo (AAAExpo).
Hosted by Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) Chief Executive Officer, Stuart Charity, the panel was made up of AAAA Chairman and GPC Asia Pacific (Repco) Chief Executive Officer Automotive Division, Wayne Bryant; BAPCOR Ltd Executive General Manager Trade, Steve Drummy; and Auto Care Association (USA) Chief Executive Officer, Bill Hanvey.
Stuart said that the future of the Aftermarket is strong, but that businesses will need to evolve to remain competitive in the face of some of the biggest changes seen in the automotive industry in the past century.
“As a workshop owner and repair and service technician, if you think that you can just still do what you’ve been doing for the last 20 years, for the next 20, think again – this industry is changing and there is support out there, but you need to have the mindset that you need to embrace that change and invest in your business and in your team,” Stuart said.
Wayne pointed out that EVs will play a part in the future, though the take up of EVs is not going to happen as fast as the hype would suggest.
He said the good news is that the market is getting larger as new car sales remain healthy, but that the car parc is also getting older, which is good news for independent workshops – though he did also warn that manufacturers are trying to hold vehicles in their dealer-supported workshops for longer by offering longer new car warranties.
Steve also sees this as one of the big problems for the aftermarket.
“OEMs are getting smarter and smarter with how they go to market, and they’ve gone from three-year type warranties and service to five and seven and beyond,” Steve said.
Stuart and all three panelists agreed that telematics is the next big fight for the Aftermarket sector, pointing out that the Right to Repair laws in Australia do not cover access to telematics data.
Bill believes this is a must for independent workshops to have access to these systems and data if they are going to continue to compete with the dealer workshops.
“If you are a shop owner and all of a sudden you are getting a message from your customer’s vehicle that you’ve got an oxygen sensor that’s going bad, you can have the part ordered, you can make the appointment and you can get the customer in and have the part waiting for you when that customer arrives,” Bill said.
This panel discussion, held on the opening day of the 2024 AAAExpo, set the scene for what was described as the best aftermarket expo held in this country.