Auto Care Prepares Suppliers for The Road Ahead

The Auto Care Association is the voice of the $356-billion auto care industry providing advocacy, education, networking, market intelligence, technology standards and communication resources to serve the collective interests of its about 3,000 member companies. They represent over 150,000 independent business locations that manufacture, distribute and sell motor vehicle parts, accessories, tools, equipment, materials and supplies, and perform vehicle service and repair. Members include manufacturers and distributors, parts stores, service and repair shops, importers, business services, manufacturers’ reps and more. The association tries to “help its members make use of the tremendous amount of data within its space more effectively and make the supply chain more efficient,”
Bill Hanvey, President and CEO Auto Care Association, told T Murrali in an exclusive interview. The association empowers the suppliers to address the challenges and embrace the opportunities that the advanced technologies present, and prepare their businesses for the road ahead.The excerpts:-

Q: It appears that nobody in the automotive space has any clue on emerging technologies, especially on the software part as the disruption and obsolescence is very high. Then how do you predict and prepare the aftermarket for the road ahead?

Hanvey: I think the way to approach that is through standardisation on the software and telematics. Each OEM has its own proprietary software so what we need to do is to have a standardised system to access the data to ensure that cyber security measures are in place. Standardisation is necessary to build a very secure home.

Q: But can you standardise everything when you have many different parameters? The target is difficult to hit as the goal post is always moving. In which case how do you standardise?

Hanvey: First of all you have to work with the OEMs to see that 2 is taken care of so that you can expand 3, 4 and 5. It calls for continuous work with OEMs, their supplier community and distributors to share information so that everyone will know when problems crop up, and can work on it collectively.

Q: How will you influence the markets outside the US? Do you work with other country associations?

Hanvey: Yes, very closely. We have recently signed an MOU with Colombia; I also have a meeting with representatives from Canada and Mexico to see what we can do more collectively as a NAFTA region to share market intelligence and tackle issues – nobody can do it alone.

Q: Are you still confined to NAFTA?

Hanvey: No, that is just an example of how we are collaborating. We cover Colombia, Peru, Latin America and China. We have a close watch on data standards there to see what standards we can bring to them.

Q: China is not known for sharing data and information. How do you manage that?

Hanvey: You have to start small, find an opportunity in a particular region where everybody has a common interest, and work on that collectively. You cannot go into a region like China and expect it to look like the US or Europe. Each region is different and we have to understand the differences between them to work with different associations and specific govt agencies.

Q: What about Europe?

Hanvey: In Europe we have a good relationship with CLEPA (European Association of Automotive Suppliers), FIGIEFA (International Federation of Automotive Aftermarket Distributors, and other associations in Austria and in Germany.

Q: How about India?

Hanvey: We participate in the trade shows in India and have a good relationship with the associations there.

Q: You had said that the Auto Care Emerging Technologies Work group has volunteers from all parts that serve the industry. What is the main objective of the work group?

Hanvey: We have representatives in the group from very successful shop owners to Tier-1 suppliers and distributors to discuss how one particular issue affects the entire industry. Since all elements of the industry are represented, the solution that we come up with is applicable to all the different levels of distribution.

Q: You have done a study with Powell Tate. What are the important findings?

Hanvey: We focused on telematics in this particular study. We found that more than 80 percent of the consumers are people who own vehicles, but with no idea about the data their vehicle is transferring; they never knew that the data were being transferred to the OEMs. They were totally clueless. But once we told them about the data controlling by OEMs, they were willing to take action to choose where they wanted to get their vehicles repaired and agreed that the independent aftermarket should have access to that data.

Q: The industry education campaign – how do you propose to take it forward?

Hanvey: We are relying, in many cases, on our membership to be able to help communicate the message downstream. We also rely on our retailers and distributors to educate their staff; we would provide the information to them so that they relay it downstream to their employees. We create some clusters to cover the entire country.

Q: So it is a full scale consumer education campaign; how do you then plan to cover all the consumers?

Hanvey: Right now we are waiting to see how our negotiations go with the OEMs before we conduct the consumer campaign. We may not have to, if we gain full access to the diagnostic data because the consumers will then have the choice on where to get their vehicles repaired.

Q: When you request OEMs to share data with your members, how do you ensure cyber security and that hacking will not happen from the members?

Hanvey: We are approaching it from three points – education, technology and advocacy. The technology solution which we are proposing, endorsed by ISO working group 204, is a secure vehicle interface that ensures cyber security is in place regardless of who is accessing that vehicle’s data, whether an OEM, dealership or the independent aftermarket.

Q: Do you make sure that from the members’ side nothing untoward will happen?

Hanvey: That’s correct.

Q: You had negotiated an agreement with the automakers in terms of getting telematics data. What is the progress so far?

Hanvey: We are actually meeting the automakers on their technology and cyber security efforts where we are going to propose our solution to them. We will listen to what they have to say, their concerns, and hopefully continue the dialogue to come up with good technological solutions. We have had several meetings with the OEM associations; the recent meeting was the first one with their technology people.

Q: What has been their response so far – hesitant or co-operative?

Hanvey: They have been gracious in meeting with us; obviously we want to get there faster than they do. Pooling all the different pieces together takes time – we understand that.

Q: Overall, what are your plans for Auto Care?

Hanvey: The short-term plan is to get our association structure aligned with their strategic plan. The long- term is to provide different types of benefits to our member associates. Obviously, government advocacy is the number one in terms of what we provide. We also feel there is a tremendous amount of data within our space that is not being utilised as effectively as they can be; I think as an association we are in a very good position to help them use that data more effectively and, in turn, help make the supply chain more efficient.

Q: Would you be expanding your activities in other countries?

Hanvey: Certainly; we are looking to collaborate with other associations to partner on trade shows, product standards or market intelligence. Market intelligence and studies cost a lot so the more we share the better we can pass on the benefits to our members. I see our collaborations increasing with other associations over the long term.

Q: Auto Care members are from the suppliers; is there any from OEMs?

Hanvey: No OEMs, only Tier-1 and 2 suppliers, and the distribution community with retailers, all the way down to our service shops. We have 3,000 members that represent 150,000 people in more than 100,000 locations.


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