AMN Executive Interview With Continental’s Dave Maclay

AMN Executive Interview With Continental’s Dave Maclay

Maclay talks about the complexity of servicing TPMS, and what's next in other high-tech segments like ADAS and EVs.

Dave Maclay is head of Product Management Independent Aftermarket North America TPMS & Electric Motors and is responsible for managing the company’s TPMS and all Electric Motors programs. He joined Continental in 1999 as a senior product manager and advanced to the position of head of product management in 2007. Prior to Continental, Maclay served at Siemens VDO Automotive as a senior product manager and director of new product development from 1999 to 2007. In addition to his 35-year career in the automotive parts business, Maclay also worked in local Ford dealerships in a wide variety of roles focused on OES parts distribution. Maclay has also held various roles in product development and product management with other area Aftermarket Parts Suppliers. Maclay has a BA in Marketing Communications from La Salle University and various certificates in Product Development / Management specialties from intuitions across the country.

Continental introduced the next generation of REDI-Sensor line at AAPEX. Tell us about this next generation line and what necessitated it? 

A: Our new generation of REDI-Sensor has taken multi-application TPMS sensor technology to the next level. We specifically developed it in response to a growing demand in the aftermarket to make TPMS service simpler, faster, and easier, while at the same minimizing the application hassles and inventory headaches experienced by many automotive shops and technicians. 

Today’s TPMS systems are no longer just a “turn on a warning light” feature for many vehicles. Vehicle manufacturers now tailor many functions to add to driver convenience and comfort that enhance the entire driving experience. And, Continental has taken important steps to make sure our sensors are ready for these enhancements as well as those in the future. Our new REDI-Sensor is readily compatible with advanced TPMS features such as autolearning, pressure by position and tire fill alert systems. 

What makes TPMS such a complex product segment and what is Continental doing to streamline things? 

A:  Actually, the technology behind TPMS is fairly straightforward, but servicing the system is not. That’s because there are so many different sensors on the market, along with a variety of vehicle-specific application criteria, and a host of different relearn procedures. We’ve simplified the situation by reducing our line to four sensors, without affecting coverage. That means a shop only needs to carry four types of sensors in order to replace more than 290 different OE sensors, including 2021 models, that come in for service. That’s more than 150 million VIO, and that solves the inventory headaches. Because REDI-Sensor has a multi-application capability, it comes ready-to-use on all those vehicles and follows the OE relearn procedures. That takes care of the other two issues.

Servicing TPMS is only a complex product segment when you are not a full system supplier like Continental. We are a leading innovator and supplier of OE and aftermarket tire pressure monitoring systems, sensors, and replacement parts, and we also provide tires, receivers, and installation kits, so that gives us a critical advantage that other TPMS suppliers do not have.

What are technicians’ biggest frustrations when it comes to servicing TPMS? 

A:  Keeping up with the latest relearn software in the tools comes to the top of the list. Whenever you have to take extra steps for programming or cloning prior to installation, you’re losing time and you’re hurting your bottom line. Technicians don’t have to worry about that with our REDI-Sensor because it’s ready to install right out of the box. Every REDI-Sensor sensor is pre-programmed from the OE factory and already has the latest vehicle applications built-in.

Tell us about the new REDI-Sensor packaging that was also unveiled at AAPEX.

A:  The new packaging scheme was designed to signal the launch of a new generation of REDI-Sensor TPMS Sensors and is a key part of an overall branding initiative that we have employed for the entire REDI-Sensor program, including the REDI-Sensor website. The new packaging features easy-to-read product identification promoting REDI-Sensor’s performance capabilities, key attributes, and overall benefits to TPMS service. 

The back side of the new package has a QR Code that links to the REDI-Sensor TPMS Application online look up, so customers can quickly check that they have the right TPMS sensor or service part. The lookup allows search by vehicle year, make, and model, or VIN number and also enables access to REDI-Sensor TPMS sensor installation and relearn instructions, service tips, videos, and technical support.

I understand Continental also has been working on creating new products for hybrid vehicles. What can you share with us about this? 

A:  Keeping in stride with trends and changes at the OE level and the electrification of the North American vehicle population, Continental brings the latest technology to the aftermarket with hybrid replacement parts such as hybrid battery cooling fans, inverter coolant pumps, HVAC Blower Motors, and engine and radiator cooling fan assemblies. We’ve expanded our offering of electric motor parts for Asian, domestic, and European hybrid vehicle service, so shops can have the parts they need to help their hybrid vehicle customers maintain OE performance and reliability. 

These parts are built to eliminate service hassles and deliver 100% OE vehicle specific fit, form, and function. They are identical to the original units installed on the assembly line and feature the same OE mounting points and plug n’ play electrical connections for quick, easy, and trouble-free installation.

What are your thoughts about the aftermarket’s readiness for EVs in general – are we prepared? 

A:  There are clear leaders in this category and Continental is one of them. Our growing line of hybrid vehicle service parts is meeting today’s increasing demand for affordable, OE-quality replacement parts that are available outside of the dealer network. As a global leader in future vehicle electrification and innovator of electric vehicle components, Continental is keenly aware of this growing trend towards electric vehicles and the continued impact it will have on the aftermarket. As new hybrid and electric vehicles are introduced to the market, Continental is anticipating the future need for OE replacement parts and will be expanding its product lines and coverage to meet those needs.

What are some of the other key technological advancements Continental is focused on right now? 

A:  Besides high-tech TPMS, where Continental is adding the many convenience features offered with your new car, we are working on some top categories for 2022 and beyond. Original equipment replacement Advanced Driver Assistance Systems for collision avoidance will be a breakthrough product line in addition to zero emission products. 

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