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AAPEX 2014: The center of the automotive universe

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AAPEX 2014: The center of the automotive universe

For three days last November, 2,364 exhibitors and 5,343 booths transformed Las Vegas’ Sands Expo Center into an international try-and-buy venue for automotive aftermarket products. But the 2014 AAPEX (Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo) did more than bring buyers and sellers together. The organizations that co-own AAPEX, the Auto Care Association and the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association, report 3,348 attendees participated in conferences and education sessions, up 8% versus 2013. Other AAPEX attendees got a heads-up on business trends from business leaders such as Steve Forbes, chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media. He predicted a new business-friendly environment for the aftermarket in a keynote address attended by more than 1,200 people.

“AAPEX 2014 was one of the best, if not the best, AAPEX ever, for so many reasons,” says Kathleen Schmatz, president and CEO of the Auto Care Association. “From the quantity and quality of key attendees and record participation at education sessions to hitting a home run with the new general session featuring Steve Forbes and other successful activities, the AAPEX experience was an industry-wide win.”

There were more than 145,000 people in Las Vegas for AAPEX and the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) Show, which was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Exhibitors and buyers came from 141 countries. The trade shows run simultaneously during Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week. The aftermarket professionals who came to the Sands Expo Center for AAPEX Nov. 4-6 discovered products, tools and technologies designed to add efficiency and profitability to their businesses.

Bosch shows all its product lines

From spark plugs and air filters to fuel pumps, battery chargers and starters for vehicles equipped with start/stop systems, the complete line-up of products from the Automotive Aftermarket division of Robert Bosch LLC was on display.

For wiper blades, Bosch has a new technology and a new product line. The company added a patented technology called ClearMax 365 to its premium Bosch Icon wiper blade line. ClearMax 365 is a synthetic rubber compound bonded both physically and chemically with a polymer powder coating. It provides longer wear, delivers superior all-weather performance and resists damage from external contaminants like ozone, road debris such as salt and grime, as well as chemicals and waxes. The company also introduced a premium hybrid beam blade based on its patented beam technology called InSight. The enclosed hybrid construction of the Bosch InSight wiper blade minimizes gaps to reduce snow and ice buildup. The new wiper has a graphite-coated natural rubber wiping edge with patented internal tension spring, versus the conventional style claws of other hybrid blades.

To further reduce the environmental impact of its brake products, the company has developed a proprietary copper-free ceramic friction formulation using renewable materials for which it has filed for patent protection. Bosch says the design and technology behind the new formulation are significant industry developments. To indicate the level of copper in its QuietCast brake pads, Bosch is rolling out new packaging Jan. 1, 2015, that will include the industry standard LeafMark. The LeafMark is a three-leaf cluster with one, two or all three leaves filled in to indicate the level of legislative compliance.

The company’s Blue Disc brake pads will now come in a greener package. Bosch has replaced the paper-and-shrink-wrapping traditionally used in packaging with a heavy-duty cotton towel. The Bosch Towel Wrap package protects the pads, and technicians can use the towel to clean their hands after servicing a vehicle.

Other new products include the C1 Battery Charger for recharging all 12V flooded car batteries, except batteries with Absorbent Glass Mat technology, to their original strength, power and performance. It is scheduled to be available in early 2015. Bosch also introduced aftermarket starters for vehicles equipped with start/stop systems.

An original equipment design fine wire double platinum spark plug which complements Bosch’s OE fine wire iridium spark plug was on display for the first time. Also introduced were engine air filters for the Workshop Filter program and original equipment platforms for Bosch’s premium aftermarket turbine fuel pump modules for late-model vehicles and many earlier applications with fuel pumps built on older technology.

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Gabriel expands sales force

Ride Control LLC has more sales professionals along with new products and a loyalty program. “We are investing in Gabriel and our first step is an expanded Gabriel sales force,” says George Ruhl, president and chief operating officer of MAT Holdings Inc., which purchased Gabriel in 2012.

In August 2014, MAT Holdings licensed the rights to the Bendix brand in the U.S. The company says its expanded sales force will sell both brands’ products to the light-vehicle channel. Seventy part numbers were added to the Bendix disc pad brake program to provide coverage for 393 more late-model applications including 2015 vehicles.

Ride Control added more than 200 light vehicle SKUs for mainstream, light truck, sport, niche and luxury vehicles to the Gabriel shocks and struts brand. The new product introduction (NPI) covers more than 10 million popular vehicles in operation. Gabriel’s 2015 NPI includes first-to-market additions to its premium ReadyMount line. Gabriel says it is first to offer pre-assembled struts for the Suzuki Forenza and Reno and early 2000 Honda Pilot and Acura MDX.

Ride Control will launch a loyalty program for service professionals in 2015. The Gabriel Answerman Advantage program will be available to technicians and shops in the U.S. and will include POS materials, promotions, rewards and business tools.

New bearings and seals program

Schaeffler Group USA Inc. launched a full line of premium bearings and seals through its FAG brand for the North American aftermarket. Schaeffler says the bearings and seals program is focused on passenger cars and light trucks.

New to North America, the program has more than 3,500 SKUs providing over 95% coverage of product categories from the 1980s to today.

Jens Schueler, president of Schaeffler Automotive Aftermarket North America, says the company is an ideal strategic partner for the automotive aftermarket due to its: global manufacturing and distribution facilities; comprehensive in-vehicle presence through the LuK, INA and FAG product lines; and research and development teams.

Pennzoil simplifies oil portfolio

Shell Lubricants, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell plc, introduced a redesigned Pennzoil brand portfolio of transmission and axle oils. The Pennzoil Platinum Transmission and Axles Oils are designed to cover 95% of the passenger cars and light trucks in North America. The tiered line of automatic transmission fluids, manual transmission fluids and axle oils are part of the Pennzoil Platinum product.

“The Pennzoil Platinum Transmission and Axles Oils build on the technology of Pennzoil Platinum motor oils by offering full synthetic performance with a wide range of products designed to meet vehicle needs,” says Doug Kooyman, Pennzoil global brand manager.

The simplified line of Pennzoil driveline oils allow shops to stock only one premium brand of driveline lubricants to meet their needs, according to the company.

Mahle speeds diagnosis

Mahle Service Solutions, a division of Mahle Aftermarket Inc., introduced its first diagnostic scan tool exclusively for the aftermarket. The company called TechPro, which provides results within seconds, a “game changer” for its speed, ease of use and low cost of entry ownership. “TechPro is all about making technicians more efficient,” says Max Dull, general manager. “For example, our new tool features the ability to decode a vehicle identification number in one second with one click. Plus, the speed of diagnosis is measured in seconds versus minutes for competitors’ tools.”

Features include J-2534 pass-through capability for reflashing and reprogramming. Other functions include cylinder balance tests, compression testing, key relearn and misfire graphing. Mahle says it is not necessary to buy or lease extra hardware as the scan tool’s vehicle communication interface and software can be used with a technicians’ current desktop, laptop or tablet.

To further lower cost, TechPro is available as a subscription and software-based model instead of a large investment in hardware.

Fram unveils filter line

Fram Group IP LLC announced the rollout of the Fram Pro Series product line, a set of oil, air and cabin air filters. “With the Fram Pro Series, we’re giving shops the opportunity to grow their business by offering a more complete oil change with trusted, quality filters engineered to pair to a specific oil offering,” says Rich Fleming, vice president of sales and marketing for Fram Filtration. The Fram Pro Series is the first product line to align oil filter selection with the specific oil used most frequently by professional installers and commercial garages.

Two oil filter choices are available. Fram Pro Synthetic is engineered to pair with synthetic and blended oils. The Fram Pro filter is engineered for vehicles that use conventional oil with short change intervals. More than 90 oil filter, 170 air filter and 70 cabin air filter part numbers are available.

Fram Group also manufactures and markets the Prestone and Autolite brands.

Advance adds Subaru to MotoLogic

Advance Auto Parts Inc. demonstrated the newest capabilities of its Web-based MotoLogic Repair and Diagnostics service, part of its MotoShop Technology Tools portfolio. The company added Subaru original equipment data for all Subaru models from 2005 to 2015 to the service.

The company says MotoLogic provides unedited OE content for more than 94% of cars and light-duty trucks on the road today. The new Subaru content includes in-depth repair articles, wiring and diagnostic articles, and Subaru tech tips, which are typically released exclusively to dealers. In addition to Subaru, the MotoLogic tool features OE repair and diagnostic information from most major manufacturers.

MotoLogic supports enhanced color wiring diagrams and the preservation of OEM-specific features and functionality, such as electrical flow diagrams. An advanced search function, including the recent addition of auto-complete suggestions, delivers instant results based on virtually any criteria: sounds, smells, OBD-II codes or components.

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Coast adds rechargeable penlights

Coast Products Co. introduced a rechargeable focusing penlight with a brightness of 275 lumens that is designed for the close work performed by vehicle inspection and service technicians. The HP3R provides service professionals with an all-purpose light for troubleshooting problems and working under the hood, according to Coast. For close work, the user dials in the exact flood beam needed by twisting the focusing bezel. The universal focusing optic enables the HP3R to cast a nearly perfect circle of smooth and consistent light.

Launch Tech troubleshoots remotely

Products displayed in the Launch Tech USA Inc. booth included Golo, a real-time remote diagnostics platform. Launch Tech says technicians use the Golo OBD interface with its new Android-based Scan Tool tablet to perform remote vehicle diagnostics on OBD II vehicles (1996 and newer). With Golo, a technician is able to remotely read and clear codes and review live data from thousands of miles away, according to Launch Tech.

Autel unveils new universal sensors

Autel Intelligent Technology Co. Ltd. introduced two programmable universal sensors and software for programming the sensors. The company says the 315 MHz and 433 MHz sensors are specially built for sensor replacement to perform like OE sensors in terms of signal interval, durability and functionality. The sensors allow technicians working with two SKU sensors and the company’s programming tool to replace over 98% of OE sensors and cover up to 99% of U.S. and Canadian vehicles. The universal sensors are part of Autel’s MaxiTPMS Universal Service Series.

Innova debuts coil, control module tester

Innova Electronics Corp. unveiled its 4400 Coil and Control Module Tester. The tester is designed for in-store use to easily and safely test the ignition circuitry of ignition coils and DIS/EIM control modules to determine if the part is good or bad. The company says the 4400 Coil and Control Module Tester is user-friendly and saves time and money at the point-of-sale by helping counter personnel quickly evaluate modules and sell the right part the first time.

Conti’s belt is quiet and durable

ContiTech AG introduced the Conti Unipower Tough Grip multi V-belt with textile surface developed by the ContiTech Power Transmission Group. The company says the special automotive drive belt greatly minimizes noise buildup when accessories like the air-conditioning system, power-steering pump or generators are in operation. The pulley side of the belt has a fabric reinforcement to make it highly resistant to wear. “This multi V-belt shows itself to be extremely sturdy when having to operate with misaligned components in the drive system, says Ralf Berger, head of sales and key account management at the ContiTech Power Transmission Group.

Mitchell 1 enhances ProDemand

Mitchell 1 has incorporated a dashboard into its ProDemand with 1Search software that provides the user with the top 10 most common repair issues and lookups for a selected vehicle. In addition, it is “mobile optimized,” according to Ben Johnson, director of product management.

“Technicians just tell ProDemand what vehicle they are working on and we provide what we know about the vehicle, broken down into four lists — components, codes, symptoms and lookups.”

Mitchell 1 spent time with customers “to learn what they really needed,” said Johnson.

DENSO releases iridium spark plug

The new Iridium TT spark plug from DENSO Products and Services Americas Inc. is engineered to last more than 100,000 miles on the road. The company says Twin Tip technology allows the spark plug to create the largest spark concentration and explosion, which translates into more power and superior fuel economy than other spark plugs.   ■

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