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AASA Conference Discusses Technology and the Aftermarket

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Oct. 12, 2020—The automotive aftermarket may be closer to the Amazon model than we think.

According to a recent AASA Tech Conference session, called “Where Vehicle Technologies and Aftermarket Business Processes Intersect,” the aftermarket is at the point to meet customer expectations through new vehicle technology. How? Vehicle data.

The session featured AASA’s senior vice president Chris Gardner moderating, along with Shiva Bhardwaj, the CEO of Pitstop, a platform that aggregates data and uses machine learning to perform predictive maintenance for vehicles; Alison Burham, vice president of data science at RepairSmith, a mobile auto repair service provider; and Joe Fried, head of Americas sales and business development at Otonomo, an automotive data services platform.

Companies like Otonomo are collecting data from vehicles, including mobility data, accelerometer data, diagnostic data, and ADAS data as well, making aggregated data on a group level available, as well as vehicle-specific data, available to the aftermarket. In fact, Otonomo in particular is working with upward of 15 OEMs, like Daimler and BMW, on the initiative.

According to Bhardwaj, this data will improve the aftermarket supply chain process. With fleets, he says, it will help companies to understand when something will break down, and could even help in the process of managing inventory volumes in the market.

"Reducing the amount of excess inventory in the market would be a key benefit," Bhardwaj says. 

Fried says the industry is already seeing parallel progress with concierge services like car washes that are enabled with data. He says even today, car washes can be scheduled dynamically.  

Furthermore, Burham says while they are operating their own fleets to get the job done, their other fleets include their customers’ vehicles. She says if they have the data on when all vehicles are in need of these repairs, they can prepare for that. 

“It brings in a new era of owning your car,” Burham said. “The new era of a sticker on the windshield will be a phone call or a text.”

So far, Bhardwaj says we are only at a fragmentation of the entire process, and it’s at a small scale right now; we have the pipeline in place, but more pieces are needed, and these businesses are taking a step-by-step approach to put it all together. But Burham assures that across the industry, there is an openness and willingness from suppliers to help and provide information. 

Bhardwaj says this is how technology works in general: technology is built on top of technology to get to that perfect world.

"It's no longer a 2025 dream," Burham says. "It's a 2021 dream." 

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