SEMA EV Aftermarket Panel: EVs are Different; Be Ready

Nov. 4, 2022

Panelists discussed how EVs will impact the automotive aftermarket, Tesla, and who controls connected vehicles.

Fun Fact

"We unlocked Tesla’s top speed at 216 mph within one mile in 25 seconds."

-  Marie-Pier Forget of Ingenext on her company accepting a challenge to push a Tesla beyond its speedometers' threshold.  

Nov. 4, 2022—In a panel discussion entitled Future of the Aftermarket in an Electrified World, moderator Sean Holman quizzed three panelists—Marie-Pier Forget (Ingenext), Brian Reese (T Sportline), and Ben Schaeffer (Unplugged Performance)—on the impact of electric vehicles on the aftermarket. While many of the questions centered around vehicle performance and modification, there were lessons for the automotive aftermarket baked into the hour-long education session, as well. 

When asked about a recent announcement by Dodge, who according to moderator Sean Holman, stated its strategies for EV power upgrades would only be available through dealerships, Ben Schaeffer believed the aftermarket would again figure out what to do as it always has historically with change.

 “The aftermarket is used to this. Our customers are used to the risk they're taking and how these plays into their relationship with car manufacturers," Ben Schaffer said. "One of the challenges of this technology is when the manufacturer of the car poses constraints. It's not good or bad but the consumer risk level is higher. What happens when you stop getting updates, or if Tesla stops updating the car? What do you do? There are nuances. It's hard to say old rules apply and hard to say where we're headed, but it's up to customers to choose. The more connected the car the less ownership you have of the car."

It was explained that Tesla is rules averse and doesn’t play well in the sandbox with how the manufacturing of cars and auto parts have been traditionally done. In the case of gas-powered vehicles, parts are made based on year,, make and model. This doesn't hold true for Tesla. Tesla doesn’t have a set of rules for supplying parts. They change and interchange parts as they have need versus issuing parts based on year, make, and model.

"What we find with Teslas is there are no rules. They run out of parts and then revert to old parts. They may have a part number, but you don't know if they'll go back. We've seen taillights and the part numbers are different. If we make these parts in the aftermarket, we have to ensure they're backward and forwards compatible,” said Brian Reese. 

"And that's a new experience for the auto world," added Schaefer. 

While range anxiety is still front of mind for many EV owners, Schaeffer felt the growing phenomenon was a bit overhyped and perhaps overblown. 

"We're in an early stage where there is so much fear-mongering around range,” Schaeffer said. “That will change over time as batteries improve.” 

Using the story of a friend, who was historically an early adopter to all things new and novel, such as NFTs and EVs, Schaeffer talked about the need for the aftermarket to embrace EVs and follow the technology now.  

"As technology advances, adaptability is important. The common thread is we all have some interior compass for going where something feels natural to us. The danger is going towards customer demand and not towards what we know works for us.” 

About the Author

Ratchet+Wrench Staff Reporters

The Ratchet+Wrench staff reporters have a combined two-plus decades of journalism and mechanical repair experience.

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