June '19

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JUNE 2019 THE SHOP 43 fleets and small business owners immensely more options when it comes to "selecting their next workhorse." In fact, stats from the Automotive Fleet Research Department show that U.S. van sales increased by 45 percent between 2015 and 2016. During that same time, sales of Euro-style compact vans outpaced their body-on-frame counterparts across North America for the first time. "Many fleets are moving from trucks to vans. The full-size Ford Transit is the number one commercial vehicle in the U.S.—lower liability insurance, better fuel economy and maintenance cost savings," says Kenyon of Keystone. "The Ram Pro- Master has done quite well, but Mercedes has made it clear that with its newly rede- signed Sprinter—including three different engines (gas, diesel, hybrid) and new roof heights—it's going after that number two spot. The new Sprinter is one to watch." Matt Daniels of Van Products in Raleigh, North Carolina, agrees that the Euro-style van is a gamechanger. "It's lighter with more trim options and size configurations—short or long wheel base." The success of the van, for Daniels, shows the industry's support of the working man—helping the workforce do a better job in a safer, more secure and comfortable work space. "These vehicles are tall, ergonomic and affordable, but I think the pickup and van will co-exist," says Kurt Miller, marketing manager at Westin Automotive. "Towing capacity is still a big deal and that capability comes with a truck," he adds. Case in point, "The F-150 is the number one selling vehicle in America, so there's plenty of opportunity in trucks. From what I see in the market, the owner of the plumbing, electrical, HVAC or pest control business may want his guys in vans, but he still wants his truck—and that's likely to be outfitted, too," explains Kenyon. Such versatility is not without setbacks. "It's becoming more difficult to work on them in the shop. New vehicles with air ride require a special sequence just to lift them off the ground so the suspen- sion doesn't respond the wrong way when unloaded," Bride of Hi-Caliber Motors- ports explains. And both the sale and installation of wheel and tire packages is becoming increasingly affected by ADAS sensors. Not to mention that many automotive techni- cians are finding they need just as much computer diagnostic skill as mechanical know-how to accomplish basic jobs around the garage. Thankfully, a robust and responsive after- market awaits in support. In part II of this article, we'll explore brands, products and shops across the U.S. making a positive impact in the industry. Trusted names will offer candid advice for evaluating your immediate region, combat- ting some of the industry challenges and capitalizing on new sales opportunities. STEFANIE GALEANO-ZALUTKO heads up Zalutko Business Services and has been free- lance writing across multiple industries for more than 10 years. Visit the company Face- book, Instagram and LinkedIn pages for more information, or contact her directly at sza- to learn more about client services. Stowe 1/2 page vertical ad_Layout 1 4/29/19 11:23 AM Page 1

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