International players in the automotive aftermarket gathered in Italy for Autopromotec 2017, and the evolving technology of connected cars and what it means for the future of the aftermarket was a big focus.

An AutopromotecEDU session concentrated on “Mobile Solutions – Opportunities and Challenges for the Aftermarket.”

Josef Frank, former aftermarket director of the European Association of Automotive Suppliers, talked about ‘Generation C,’ the connected generation. By 2020, Frank says, they “will live in a predominantly digital world that will shape the way we work and how we consume.”

Gianmarco Giorda, director of the Italian Association of the Automotive Industry (ANFIA), said the time has come to tackle “major technological challenges in the age of global connectivity.” He said there are about 2,000 component manufacturers involved in the aftermarket in Italy alone, and there’s an expectation of “marked improvement” in all sectors of the automotive industry. “It is now necessary to prepare ahead of time for the arrival of the electric car, the connected car and the e-mobility solutions.”

Tim Armstrong, vice president of planning solutions for IHS Automotive, expects how people use cars will change. “It should no longer be seen as a simple mean of transport, but as an integrated tool of connected mobility. Car sharing will be increasingly widespread. The car will be increasingly shared and technologies will change radically. Buying a new car will be less and less indispensable for the public, who will rely on fleets.

“Service will also be affected by major changes. The aftermarket will sooner or later limit the activities of less structured spare parts dealers, as well as those of small car washes or tire shops. With regard to maintenance, the future will reward those who will be able to offer roadside services, possibly 24 hours a day. Self-driving cars can truly change the way service is done, eliminating the need for preventive check ups, because it will all happen automatically.”

Matthias Knirsch, director of business development at Bosch Automotive Aftermarket, said technological connections will allow for faster communication between parties. “It will be possible to carry out remote maintenance while the car is parked. Specific connection platforms will be able to connect multiple things. It will be possible to know in advance where parking is available, or to know the real-time situation of the usage of components.

“With all this data being generated and exchanged, one thing to not underestimate is the need to protect personal data, and Bosch is already studying solutions to keep hackers at bay.”

Sebastian Ruffino is the business unit manager for the Bridge business platform from TomTom International BV. He said there will be a shift from navigation services to business services and solutions. “Think of the benefits that can be achieved managing a commercial fleet with remote monitoring. Integrated navigation systems created for the aftermarket can be implemented with many functions, like digital signatures for delivering a product. Experiments are being done with networked garbage collection. The garbage bin will be connected to the network, and when it is full it will send a signal to the truck, which will arrive to empty it guided by the navigator.”

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