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TWICE Q&A: Where To Expect Growth

NEW YORK — Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, connectivity, safety and telematics will be key contributors to future aftermarket growth, according to select marketers questioned by TWICE.

In the meantime, marine products, rear-seat entertainment systems that display smartphone- and tablet-stored content, remote starters, are doing their share to help maintain aftermarket sales. Here’s what a trio of marketers had to say:

TWICE: Which segments of the aftermarket have proven resilient?

Allen H. Gharapetian, Clarion: The accessories segment with a specific focus on amplifier (four-channel amps in particular) and speaker categories, both with high double-digit gains.

In-dash CD source units remain quite stable, while the mech-less category keeps its steady growth, although not as quickly as forecast. In-dash navigation is on track with sales similar to last year’s performance, but this category will likely become more volatile in 2015 when CarPlay and Android Auto-equipped models begin to ship. Dual-DIN indash multimedia source units are growing steadily.

With the boating market experiencing record rebounds in 2014 sales, marine source units are very much in demand, and the industry will see significant increases in the next few years.

Steve Crawford, Alpine Electronics of America: At Alpine, we have seen resiliency in products and features that integrate with the customer’s lifestyle. There is continued interest in our vehicle-specific premium nav systems.

Tom Malone, Voxx Electronics: Rear-seat entertainment has been a solid contributor for us since its inception and now, with such a strong emphasis on connectivity, it offers new growth opportunities with both existing and new customers. RSE with HDMI/MHL capabilities [enables consumers to] connect their mobile devices to stream content directly to their rear seat monitors.

While most vehicles may come with keyless entry and many with security, remote start continues to be a soughtafter add-on.

TWICE: What are the opportunities for the future?

Crawford: Apple CarPlay represents a great opportunity and is another example of a feature that brings the customer’s lifestyle into the in-vehicle space in a relevant manner. iPhone users are extremely loyal to their phone and have high expectations of using the Apple OS in the vehicle. Our CarPlay product is shipping soon.

Malone: Two areas are emerging as key: connectivity and safety. Today’s drivers rely more and more on technology to help operate their vehicles with optimum safety and convenience features. Today aftermarket companies are developing categories that were once considered far-fetched, with sophisticated technology and products like event recorders, lane-departure and forward-collision warning systems.

Telematics has been around for some time now, but those solutions are just now reaching their stride. Today the growth areas are around OBDII systems that help good drivers reduce insurance costs with participating insurance companies, as well as systems that monitor driver behavior, stop texting and even monitor vehicle health. The next generation will make your vehicle a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Gharapetian: The biggest opportunities in the next few years tie in directly to connectivity as well as safety-related features. Enhanced HMI will play a significant role with the expected renaissance of the next-generation voice-recognition technologies (such as Clarion’s Intelligent VOICE powered by Google) and a more robust app integration taking full advantage of 4G and Wi-Fi connectivity capabilities built into new infotainment devices. We also expect CarPlay and Android Auto to rejuvenate interest in both aftermarket and OEM circles, initiating a potentially significant wave of upgrades.

As far as safety is concerned, we expect to see, in the next few years, the combination of multiple onboard cameras, sensors, and more adaptive artificial intelligence technologies to facilitate bringing affordable new safety enhancing features and capabilities to aftermarket products.