With the introduction of connected car advancements at CES and the North American Auto Show — such as concept vehicles and self-driving cars — It is clear that every big player in the auto industry is working hard to innovate as quickly as possible.
Realistically, 2017 won’t be the year we see major developments in the connected car space. But when we do, the first advancements will most likely occur in the aftermarket space to mirror how consumers are currently adopting smart products to connect their homes.
Why aftermarket tech? Why now?
When the average car buyer hears the term “connected car” most assume this means splurging on the latest concept model. But what they don’t realize is they can achieve the benefits of a connected car by upgrading through aftermarket tech. Case in point, consumers were presented with a reality check from Ford’s OBD Smart Link earlier this year: Car manufacturers are taking very seriously the potential of selling to existing customers with older vehicles to keep them engaged with their brand.
That’s what makes now a prime time for the aftermarket tech market. As the quality of cars continues to improve and interest rates climb over time, more people are hanging onto their cars for longer than expected because they simply can’t afford to keep up with or replace these expensive vehicles. What’s more, the auto industry is on the cusp of a trade war that will likely result in more expensive cars for Americans. If it does, it’s possible that cars will become 10–20% more expensive, which can even further delay people from buying new cars.
Recipes for success in the aftermarket space
Aftermarket tech typically presents a rich and more complete product experience for consumers, especially through products that offer multiple features, ensure safety and keep up-to-date with the latest connectivity features.
Currently, there are only a few solutions out there and most offer a single-feature benefit at a high price. Products that provide multiple, integrated features at a reasonable cost will not only provide more value for consumers, but will encourage people to hold on to their cars for much longer by offering them modern features. Sure, you can equip your older car, but buying 5–6 different products isn’t the way to do so. Instead, take the time to invest in just one product that serves multiple functions — the most successful aftermarket products will be those that combine useful features of products in the market.
Makers of aftermarket tech should also be wary of technologies that have the potential to take drivers’ attention away from the road. As more laws and regulations are implemented to increase on-the-road safety, these makers need to ask themselves if their product is the reason people are picking up their phones while driving. It’s hard to say whether the sharing economy — and the introduction of ridesharing services — is to blame, but products that display your phone screen in front of you are simply unsafe. Ultimately, those products will be the first to go if and when more safety policies are implemented to encourage cautious driving.
Lastly, any aftermarket product with its own cellular connection will have an edge over its competitors. Why? Products with the ability to draw from thousands of online sources in real time to provide drivers with the right information on demand is key. After all, that’s what the IoT is all about — products that are always connected via a cellular network.
As the connected car space advances to parallel the smart home, the long-term goal is to see consumers consider the benefits of adopting aftermarket technologies gradually — before fully committing to concept models that are several years away. After all, who says connectivity needs to start and stop with the house? New developments in the aftermarket space will help make vehicle upgrades affordable and accessible and bring the connected car to your driveway sooner than later.