the beginning of each year, we review what were the top influences or
events on automotive aftermarket parts distribution during the year
that just ended. We gauge this by reviewing the most-read stories from our sister
In 2009, the Cash for Clunkers program got plenty of headlines and had effects on the automotive
aftermarket, both directly and indirectly.
the swoop of some pens on legislation, many, many test drives and the
destruction of the used vehicles, 677,017 new vehicles were sold. The
result? The final prices of some vehicles actually edged up and people
who might have purchased a new vehicle in the future just bought the
vehicles earlier than they would have.
And, according to an R. L.
Polk & Co. survey, the program actually hurt owner loyalty. The
point of the program was to get Americans buying cars again, but
American car companies took a hit. Chrysler and General Motors suffered
13 and 7 percent declines, respectively, in corporate loyalty from
July to August, according to R. L. Polk & Co. Ford suffered less
so, at about 6 percent.
The effect on the independent repair and
parts aftermarket was that hundreds of thousands of vehicles all of
which had to be in working order according to “Clunkers” rules were
taken off the road and destroyed. Whatever pent-up work that needed to
be done went with them. In the end, about $3 billion was spent on the
program, with its value in doubt.
A bit of right-sizing occurred in
2009, in various forms. The Bosch Group foundation brakes business in
North America, which includes brake calipers, disc brakes and drum
brakes, was sold to Tokyo-based Akebono Brake Industry.
didn’t include brake activities in the field of brake boosters and
commercial vehicles, nor does it affect the ESP and ABS business of the
Chassis Systems Control division or the aftermarket business with
friction and brake components, Counterman’s sister publications
Then-new GM CEO Fritz Henderson, who
has been replaced after a mere nine months at the helm of the company,
took ACDelco, the company’s parts and service division, off the market
GM talked to several potential buyers, the company said,
but nothing came to fruition. In August, a new aftermarket company
emerged, Vista-Pro Automotive, which was the blending of select assets
of Visteon Corp. and Proliance International. Vista-Pro’s product
offering includes Proliance’s Ready-Rad radiators, Ready-Aire
condensers and Ready-Aire heater cores.
At year’s end, both Chrysler
and GM were still hearing appeals from new car dealerships that were
shuttered by the companies. The manufacturers made the argument that
shutting down the dealerships would help put them back on the road to
As expected, the franchise owners hated the idea.
Some dealerships, which had been family owned for 50 years, were
suddenly gone. Many are appealing to the companies to be reinstated.
theory, the nearly 2,000 dealerships that were shut down would be a
boon to the aftermarket. More independent repair shops should get more
work because dealership repair bays would shut down. In some Long
Island communities in New York, for example, customers would have to
drive a fairly long distance to even find a dealership. So far, there’s
only been anecdotal evidence regarding the fallout of the dealerships
and the effect on aftermarket. Still, any reduction in service from the
dealerships will eventually lead to more business for the aftermarket.
2009, several companies with sales overseas sought to bring their
products to the North American market. Fras-Le, long a big player in
the South American friction market, headed north. Standard Motor
Products (SMP) brought its popular import brand of quality engine
management parts, Intermotor, to the U.S.
Uni-Select’s purchase of
Beck/Arnley was interesting enough news in 2008 and certainly made in
impact in 2009 and will continue to in the future.
bought Beck/Arnley Worldparts Corp. and its Canadian subsidiary
Beck/Arnley Worldparts Canada ULC. It set the stage for Uni-Select’s
new Foreign Nameplate Division.
Everyone talks about e-cats, why not Free-Cat?
In early 2009, a new not-for-profit called Free-Cat emerged. Free-Cat was established by a group of 26
parts manufacturers including CARDONE, Affinia, Raybestos, Wix,
Federal Mogul, Gates, Dayco, Tenneco, Bosch and Standard Motor Products
with the goal to quickly get catalog info to the repair community.
The site, free-cat.com, is currently open to the public without any
In 2009, aftermarket parts stores hired in several people who held leadership roles in retail companies such as Best Buy.
was a sign that some companies are placing an even greater emphasis on
online parts sales, as some of those executives filled similar roles
outside the aftermarket.
Some aftermarket companies filed lawsuits
in 2009 over issues such as false advertising, antitrust and trade
Affinia Group filed a petition requesting the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) consider a
first-ever Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard for brake rotors.
proposal rule would require rotors to be stamped with identifying
markings, including a “DOT” (U.S. Department of Transportation) symbol
representing the manufacturer’s certification that the part meets the
Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance Inc. (The Alliance) CEO and president Richard “Dick” Morgan, retired after an illustrious career. At the Alliance’s
annual winter shareholder meeting in December in Boca Raton, Fla.,
friends and colleagues thanked Morgan through a series of pre-recorded
video messages and in-person tributes. “It’s been a long road getting
here more than 50 years and it’s been a great ride. I look forward
to this next step but I won’t be too far from the
aftermarket I guess it’s just in my blood,” Morgan said to those in attendance.
Washbish, who was executive vice president and who took over the reins
of president from Dick on Jan. 1, said of the tributes: “This was a
group effort from everyone who has known and worked with Dick over the
years. We had to find a way to express our well-wishes for him but also
to thank him for his many contributions. I believe we accomplished that