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March 2024

Japan's automotive aftermarket industry on show at IAAE

Emanuele Vicentini

The largest edition of IAAE (International Automotive Aftermarket Expo) Tokyo brings aftermarket trends related to market innovations to the Japanese market
Reinventing to represent a new compass for operators as the automotive aftermarket rapidly changes: no longer just a trade fair, IAAE (International Automotive Aftermarket Expo) finds new purposes to unite and empower the Japanese automotive aftermarket industry in general. 
These were the aims with which the 21st edition of the specialised trade fair opened, bringing together not only classic manufacturers and operators but also all the world's innovations and advanced solutions, focusing more than ever on current trends and the future direction of electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles and ADAS technologies, which are increasingly gaining ground in the business of industry professionals.
In a market that remains very peculiar, closed but yet attentive to what is happening outside, serving a strong domestic automotive brand industry with its own successful path to the energy transition (recent figures show that in the US, sales of Japanese hybrid vehicles, especially Toyota, Honda and Mazda, have surpassed the level of sales of US electric cars by Tesla) the 21st IAAE trade fair returns to exceed its pre-covid size levels and is held, as always, at the futuristic Tokyo Big Sight exhibition centre (south wing, in 4 large halls) and visitor registration is good, with some 20,000 industry professionals present over the three days of the event. now open for all global automotive aftermarket leaders. 

Japan, in the aftermarket sector, suffers from a fragmentation of the offer, with at least 3 representative exhibitions with different cadences, and a plethora of organisations, associations and consortia representing the different production and professional souls. In any case, the halls are well attended with the presence of numerous well-known brands in the sector, especially in the spare parts, bodywork, tyre service and workshop equipment segments. A separate segment is formed by customisers, who are still an interesting business in Japan.

Just to offer a summary framework, the steering committee of International Auto Aftermarket Expo consists of representatives of Auto-Parts & Accessories Retail Association (APARA); Japan Auto Accessories Manufacturers' Association (JAAMA); Japan Auto Chemical Industry Association; Japan Auto Parts Industries Association (JAPIA); Japan Automobile Dealers Association (JADA); Japan Automobile Service Promotion Association (JASEA); Japan Automotive Machinery and Tool Manufactures Association (JAMTA); Japan Automotive Parts and Accessories Distributors Association (JAPADA); Japan Automotive Parts Recyclers Association (JAPRA); Japan Automotive Products Association (JAPA); Japan Autoparts Wholesales Association; Japan Filter Element Association; Nippon Auto Parts Aftermarket Committee (NAPAC); Rebuilt Manufacturers Association Japan plus additional national and institutional representatives of importers, distributors and manufacturers.

In a show with a dry look and few frills, the areas of Italian companies such as Brembo, Sparco, Fiamm or WinCar with its Asian section and the import of numerous products from Italian garage equipment companies were particularly prominent.

Thanks to a co-promotion agreement with the private organisers of JC Resonance, a dedicated stand provided the opportunity to promote both the next edition of Autopromotec, from 21 to 24 May 2025, and the Italian association of garage equipment manufacturers, AICA.

This was followed by meetings with JASEA (Japan Automobile Service Promotion Association) and JAMTA (Japan Automotive Machinery and Tool Manufactures), and with three journalists representing technical sector media, again to amplify the interest of operators from the rising sun in the next edition of Autopromotec 2025.

In the following days, thanks to WinCar Automotive ICT Solutions Asia, there was an excellent opportunity to present the next Autopromotec 2025 to a targeted audience of Japanese automotive professionals, eager to visit the fair. 

Afterwards, an important meeting with the Secretary General, Mr Kanji, and the President, Mr Kimio, of the BS-Summit cooperative association, which operates in the service equipment and bodywork sector at national level and represents thousands of professional operators and equipment buyers, especially from Italy, which is recognised as an industry leader. 

Finally, an important institutional moment with the appreciated meeting with the Head of the Economic and Commercial Office of the Italian Embassy in Japan, Francesco Paolo Cannito, who was introduced to both the Autopromotec exhibition and the AICA association, with its excellent export levels, as well as the results of technological exchange achieved thanks to the recent 'Futurmotive Expo & Talks' project. 

On the sidelines, thanks to ICE Agenzia - Italian Trade Agency, Tokyo office, I got to know the innovative company NatureArchitects (Yumi Karasumaru and Suto Kai) with metamaterial solutions for the automotive sector; then on to Yokohama for a visit to the Nana LV accelerator and the pitch of some start-ups participating in the Global Startup Program financed by ICE Agenzia, including Novac of Modena, active in the development of batteries in composite materials.

Above all, it was a very interesting and helpful week for the creation of meetings, the development of relationships and the expansion of networks at various levels, towards a country that is historically complex and distant, but so strong and present in the automotive world and, today, in the sophisticated game of energy transition: a privilege to live for a week within the Japanese culture of the automotive ecosystem, very enriching. Surprising, finally, to see the value recognition of all Italian products in Japan, not only related to cars but in the entire lifestyle. It is no coincidence that the current government has placed Japan at the centre of its bilateral economic relations.

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