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Opportunities for change

Marco Bettazzi

The new mobility scenarios are of great concern for the aftermarket
The new mobility scenarios are of great concern for the aftermarket as a whole, and especially for workshop owners: electric vehicles, autonomous cars, adas systems, car sharing etc.. However, the future, which is partially already here, can also represent an incredible opportunity for the operators in the sector. As long as competition takes place on equal terms: the need is for rules that guarantee open and free access to data on tomorrow's hyper-connected vehicles.
 
This is the main message that came out International Aftermarket Meeting held at Autopromotec, which looked into all the possible developments as far as repair activities are concerned, in the light of new forms of mobility looming on the horizon. Electrification, connectivity, self-driving vehicles and shared mobility are the areas analyzed by Michele Bertoncello of McKinsey&Co., who opened the event. The advent of electric vehicles will not happen all at once, of course, but will happen sooner or later, as evidenced by the heavy investments made by most major manufacturers. The year 2025, McKinsey points out, is expected to be the peak year for consumption of liquid fuel, while 2030 should represent the peak for the maximum total Energy consumption including electricity, before a gradual decline in favour of the latter. "Looking at mature markets for electricity such as Norway - stresses Bertoncello - one can expect a drop in revenues for the aftermarket. This is certainly a problem, but may also offer several interesting possibilities. Which ones? "Electric vehicle certainly needs less maintenance, or at least less frequent, - he continues - but there are also new business opportunities that are bound to open up, such as charging stations and battery disposal”. Then we must mention connectivity. "According to a survey more than 40% of consumers are ready to change their vehicle on the basis of greater connectivity - adds Bertoncello -, and this opens up new scenarios on navigation services, which is additional source of income”. Even more surprising are the changes taking place in the field of shared mobility, as evidenced by the explosion of services such as Uber or Lyft, especially in the United States. And the same applies to autonomous driving which, although still far from a massive spread, is already present in some sectors.
 
Free access to data, though, still represents a major issue, a "battlefield" on which the future of mobility will be played. Manufacturers are bent on keeping vehicle data well guarded, while, in reality these represent the key to free and fair competition for independent operators. "The aftermarket must have access to these data, even if this alone is hardly enough - is the opinion of Bertoncello -, as consumers are willing to pay to have fewer complications. And it is precisely around the use of data that associations such as Figiefa, which represents 30,000 independent wholesalers and manufacturers of European spare parts, with 355,000 employees, is “fighting” its battle for clear rules that allow free access and sharing of these data. "We can be as competitive as we would like, but without a clear regulatory framework our position would be at risk - explains Sylvia Gotzen, CEO of Figiefa - Competition will begin even before a vehicles enters the workshop. In the future, the place where maintenance work is to take place will be determined by whoever has access to vehicle data: this is the basis of everything". Thanks to the lobbying work carried out by the association, says Gotzen, today the European Parliament "is perfectly aware of these issues and has already asked the legislator to do something about it". "Next week a new parliament will be installed - she continues – but this does not mean that all the work done was just a waste of time, obviously we will have to form new relationships if we are to continue our struggle”. Richard Knubben, of Lease Europe, looks at these changes from the point of view of leasing companies. "Our companies no longer offer themselves as service companies only, since mobility today is no longer just about getting people from A to B. Car sharing is really nothing more than a form of rental, although popular platforms like BlaBla Car work on different principle. However, car sharing needs, and will continue to do so, a lot of data”. Just think of traditional rentals with cars returned in airports compared to a car sharing system: in the first case checks, maintenance and cleaning are performed only once, while with car sharing schemes, these must be done "in remote and 45 times a day, since this is the average number of user for a vehicle in large cities. "But we are not the ones doing the work, you are - says Knubben to the audience – The absence of a competitive car repair sector, hurts us too". Bernard Lycke from Cecra, which represents 24 national associations and 2.9 million workers, also focuses on the need for free access to vehicle data.
 
A premium car makers such as Volkswagen, which plans to invest 30 billion euro in the massive electrification of its range, was also at the table. "Our plans are to launch 70 new electric models by 2028, in an attempt to reach 22 million vehicles sold," explain Stefano Sordelli and Oscar Molon, of Volkswagen Italy. The question for them was an obvious one: will they allow free access to data? "We will follow the rules, that much is clear - they answered -. Having a well defined set of rules suits large manufacturers too, because regulatory grey areas carry more risks than benefits”.
 
In the future, mechanics will have to rely on new skills. "The workshop will become a “factory” that produces services based on data management," explains Neil Pattemore from Egea, who warns: "This means they will need better IT skills, as well as mechanical, electronic and mechatronic competence. According to Bill Hanvey, of Autocare, the battles currently raging in the United States are the same as those taking place in Europe, and for this reason it is necessary "to build a united front, working shoulder-to-shoulder", while Frank Beaujean, of ASA-Verband, focuses on future generations: "Workshops are still here, what we are now lacking are young professionals, ready to carry the torch, preventing the closure of a large number of garages”. "Absolute protectionism on data is not achievable – concludes Mauro Severi of AICA -. We are available to discuss about the confidentiality of data, but without losing sight of the main purpose of our work, which is helping people to have a better quality of life”.





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