Preparing for the Rise of Automated Vehicles

Dec. 4, 2017
Not only will shop need to learn to explain advanced driver-assist systems to customers, but technicians must understand how to repair the ever-changing technology within vehicles. If not, they’ll put drivers everywhere in danger.

At the 2017 SEMA Show, autonomous vehicles were a hot topic of discussion. Many autonomous vehicles were displayed throughout the show floor, and various panelists discussed the new, rapidly growing wave of automated technology in the industry.

“There’s been more change in the last five years than probably the 50 before that,” SEMA president Chris Kersting said at a press conference during the show on Nov. 1. 

This past year, SEMA commissioned the Advanced Vehicle Technology Opportunity Study, featuring extensive research on autonomous technology, with help from Ducker Worldwide and the Center for Automotive Research. The intent of the study was to analyze major advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) opportunities for members of the automotive aftermarket going forward.

So, what impact does this data have for your shop? Well, as consumer interest grows and vehicles become more complex, Kaleb Silver, senior product manager for Hunter Engineering, says the growth of ADAS technologies will provide a major shake-up for the automotive aftermarket, and have a major impact on services in automotive repair shops. Not only will they need to be able to explain ADAS to customers, but technicians must also understand how to repair the ever-changing technology within vehicles.

If not, they’ll put drivers everywhere in danger.

The Opportunity Study

Some highlights of the SEMA Advanced Vehicle Technology Opportunity Study include:

  • The aftermarket segment for ADAS in the U.S. is currently a $976 million opportunity, which could grow to $1.51 billion in 2021, a 9.1 percent annual compound growth rate.
  • Electronic content in new vehicles is now greater than 40 percent, and there will be an increased interest in replacing, retrofitting and modifying vehicle electronics systems on all cars.
  • Blind spot warning and passive forward collision avoidance are the two biggest avenues of growth, with an estimated CAGR of 14 percent over the next five years.
  • All vehicles will be fitted with systems by 2023.

The Market

The study states that key drivers in the massive estimated growth to the ADAS market include a decreased price in technology products from original equipment manufacturers, and an increased interest in safety systems among drivers.

Passive systems, which alert or warn a driver to take action to prevent an accident, have the largest presence in the aftermarket currently—but active systems, which overtake driving controls after identifying a potential collision, are growing in popularity and usage.

“While the passive systems may be more prevalent in the current marketplace, the active systems are clearly taking over,” Silver says. “That’s where the industry is going and has to go.”

The Consumer Effect

Safety is the main concern with the implementation of ADAS going forward, the study says. Some of the main systems, like collision warnings, blind spot warnings and lane-departure warnings, have a specific focus on safety and collision avoidance.

Silver says that many newer car commercials have a major focus on using autonomous technology to avoid dangerous situations, like automatic emergency braking (commonly known in the industry as AEB).

While most new models will have these safety features, customers might be interested in retrofitting their vehicles with this technology. The study claims that many rearview cameras, chips and sensors can be installed relatively easily.

As this technology becomes less complex and the systems become even easier to install, consumers can learn to install these themselves, or take them to a dealer or shop to have them installed into their vehicles.

The Shop’s Role

Shops will need to figure out how to retrofit these vehicles with the latest technology, Silver claims. The study states that while the service structure for ADAS will include specialty dealers and uplifters, independent repairers will also have a significant opportunity to seize this market growth.

Silver says that technicians will need to be able to identify if vehicles are equipped with ADAS and must know the right way to repair these systems when they encounter them.

In fact, just this past August, Hunter Engineering recognized this and produced two educational videos about safety system alignments. The videos, made for both consumers and auto service shops, explain the purpose and function of ADAS, such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and brake assist.

If ADAS isn’t understood, shops could very well face the consequences: Failure to properly align safety systems can result in dashboard warning lights, steering wheel vibration, vehicle pull or increased steering effort. ADAS can even malfunction or shut down.

“The industry is going to face the challenge of not just tooling up, but having the training and the space for all the different pieces that are required to properly service these vehicles,” Silver says.

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