February '19

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FEBRUARY 2019 THE SHOP 61 A great example is blind spot products. The aftermarket continues to improve its product quality in this area, and for our shop it's become a popular category to offer consumers. And for car dealerships, the systems aren't standard on that many vehicles at the moment and are usually viewed as a premium option, which provides opportunities at the dealer level as well. What challenges have been created because of vehicle complexity? We are officially in a digital world. The analog way of doing things is gone, never to return, which presents new challenges. Instead of knowledge of plugs and wiring diagrams being vital when installing a 12-volt product, now it's understanding software or firmware that communicates successfully within the vehicle's complicated infrastructure. These days, relying on this technology means relying a lot more on third-party manufacturers. It's absolutely critical to partner with suppliers whose products work flawlessly with today's high- tech vehicles. Our industry has made it over these types of speed bumps in the past—for instance, when wheel TPMS became standard. Some thought it would be the end of aftermarket wheels and tires, but tell that to the Lower South Hall of the SEMA Show. The same goes today for the new level of communication demanded of aftermarket accessories that must talk to new vehicles. What examples are there of new business opportunities that have come about because of where automotive technology is trending? As we all know, technology has made leaps and bounds in the last few years, and in some ways has even passed up consumers' wants and expectations. In some cases, we've actually had success installing technology that's less advanced than what's already in the vehicle. For example, we get requests for remote starts to be installed into vehicles that have the ability to be started with a smartphone app. That isn't how the consumer wants to use their remote start, however, so our simpler key fob product meets their needs. Another example is CD players. A lot of vehicles no longer come with CD players from the factory. To many people this only seems natural, because they use their phone to stream music via Bluetooth iBEAM License Plate Commercial Van Cam- eras are an example of a product popular with mu- nicipalities that could lead to increased fleet vehicle upfitting opportunities in the future. (Photos courtesy Metra Electronics) Some- times sim- pler is better when it comes to in-vehicle electronics.

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