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Twenty-two Trends To Keep An Eye On In 2022

I’ll meet you back here in 12 months and we’ll review what’s come to fruition and what hasn’t.

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Amy Antenora has been reporting on the automotive aftermarket since 2002.

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Hello aftermarket friends and colleagues! Welcome to 2022!

It is with the most fervent enthusiasm that I wish for all of us a better, brighter and healthier year than the past two. Covid is still with us. I know we have all grown tired of dealing with it. And talking about it. Which is NOT what we are going to do right now.

Let’s not overthink things here. For now, let’s take a quick and dirty look at 22 trends to keep an eye on this year. This is just my take, my two cents, in no particular order, after having reported on this industry for the past 20 years. (Has it really been TWENTY years?! That explains the gray hairs starting to crop up.) 

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I’ll meet you back here in 12 months and we’ll review what’s come to fruition and what hasn’t. Any wagers? Here goes … 

Twenty-Two Trends For 2022

1. ADAS. We all love an exciting “new” automotive innovation, and this one seems to be the tech gaining most ground as of late. 

2. More road trips. I foresee more weary quarantiners hitting the road this summer. More road trips = more miles driven = more service opportunities again in 2022. That’s great news for the aftermarket all around.

3. Autonomous vehicles, but make it heavy-duty. Commercial vehicles will continue to lead the way when it comes to the most plausible use of self-driving vehicles on public roads this year.

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4. Used-vehicle values. The competition for used vehicles will continue to heat up as supply chain challenges wear on.

5. Electric vehicles. We will continue to talk about them on a nearly daily basis but we still won’t fully embrace them in 2022. And what are we going to do about those currently less-than-environmentally friendly batteries once they are out of service?

6. Diversity. If DEI has not yet become part of your corporate culture, it’s time to educate yourself on why this is critically important.

7. Mobility. More large automotive suppliers will rebrand themselves as technology companies and mobility companies this year, not just “manufacturers.” That is soooo ‘90s.

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8. E-commerce. We saw e-commerce explode in the aftermarket during the pandemic, and I believe this trend is here to stick. The question is how much more will it grow in 2022?

9. Cybersecurity. With an increase not only in e-commerce purchases, but also in online business in general, we should plan for the inevitable increase in cybersecurity breaches as well. This is going to take a lot more than resetting those passwords.

10. Efficiency. And speaking of the pandemic, it gave us a crash course in learning how to work more efficiently and streamline operations more. What new products and processes will this create?

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11. Video. Video has taken over as the primary tool for bite-sized learning when it comes to training consumers and techs on new aftermarket products.

12. The Great Resignation. By now you have heard about the “Great Resignation” that is currently sweeping the nation. What is your company doing to embrace change and retain top talent in its wake?

13. Generational diversity. More than ever before, we now have the widest breadth of generations (from Boomers coming out of retirement to Gen Z just starting their careers) together in the workplace, each bringing different perspectives, skillsets and values; each requiring something different to stay satisfied. 

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14. Reshoring. As global supply chain struggles continue to stand on the tiger’s tail, we will see more companies that saw the financial gains in offshoring a decade ago reverse those decisions.

15. Climate change. Large corporations will increase their focus on climate change as part of their corporate social responsibility platforms in 2022.

16. Mobile automotive service. As a society that values convenience and has become accustomed to more and more services at home during the pandemic, getting an oil change at home in your driveway may start to seem increasingly appealing.

17. Private equity. If the number of M&A deals we saw last year was any indication, PE will continue to see the value in investing in the automotive aftermarket. 

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18. Family values. Particularly in the traditional distribution sector, third- and fourth-generation family run businesses are still going strong with a number of young professionals stepping into leadership positions at their family businesses this year.

19. Grassroots political action. This is an industry of passionate industry advocates who get things done (Essential Business anyone?) and Right to Repair will be top of mind this year.

20. Hybrid events. Despite improving conditions, many aftermarket organizations have indicated that they may continue with hybrid live/virtual events due to the convenience it offers its attendees who may not be able to afford to travel, whether due to cost or time limitations.

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21. Robotics. Expect to see an increased use of robotics in both warehousing and manufacturing – however, working in tandem with human beings, not replacing them as many previously feared.

22. Vehicular healthcare products. Another unexpected byproduct of the pandemic has been the development of better cabin air filtration and other vehicle-interior products that focus on the health and well-being of the passengers inside the vehicle. I expect we will see more innovations like this now that we have been shown just how vulnerable we all are in our daily lives. 

What are your thoughts – did I miss anything? Drop me a line at [email protected] and share your aftermarket predictions for 2022.

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