At the Town Hall Meeting at Spring KnowledgeFest this week, the Mobile Electronics Association (MEA) said the car audio/electronics aftermarket is ready for growth if retailers take certain steps.
New companies are investing in the market. Navdy has invested $26 million in its aftermarket heads up display. Reviver, with a digitally connected aftermarket license plate, has invested $10 million and a new video telematics company has invested $24 million, said MEA President Chris Cook.
Why are companies targeting the aftermarket when they could be pushing OEM product? The reason is that there are only 17 million new cars sold each year but there are 260 million cars on the road. “It would take 20 years to get new products into 15 million new cars each year,” said Cook, stating that the aftermarket remains a huge opportunity for new technology and there remains a vital need for the aftermarket.
For that reason, the industry is going to continue to thrive, he said.
Additionally, Cook said more than 700 car audio retailers using point of sale TSS software have been reporting flat sales over the past few years. The contraction of the aftermarket has slowed and the industry is now at a steady, flat pace, he said, adding that by embracing new technologies, it can grow again.
Cook challenged industry members to welcome new technology coming down the pike, including driver safety and the Internet of Things (IoT), or devices connected to the Internet.
IoT such as Amazon’s Alexa is already coming to the cars, and car audio stores and 12 volt retailers should be ready. That may require learning about home automation. Through IoT, the car will become another “room” in the home and car audio dealers should prepare for the shift.
“I challenge you to become an IoT automotive specialist. That is the shift in my view that is coming to our market. As an association we will do everything we can to help you be ready,” said Cook.
In 3 years there will be about 50 billion IoT devices connected (worldwide).
Despite the optimism, one member of the audience mentioned the Dept. of Labor report that said car audio installers would decline in numbers by 50 percent by 2024. Cook said the report is not completely accurate. We’ll address that topic in a coming story.