Editor’s Note: Kicking off the new AMN video series, titled “The Rules of (Aftermarket) Engagement,” Babcox Media Group Publisher of Content Scott Shriber tackles a touchy subject in the aftermarket today: the internal combustion engine. Is this the end of the line for ICE, or is the aftermarket suffering from a bit of chicken little syndrome? Watch the video, then give us your take on the issue.
The pace of technology and innovation today can be mind-boggling. With every new innovation usually comes “the Chicken Little Factor.” Here are a few from over the years:
- The fax machine will kill the mail system.
- TV will kill the radio.
- Movie rentals and streaming videos will kill the movie theaters.
Every year, the U.S. Postal Service still delivers more than 149 billion piece of mail. There are still more than 2,000 radio stations in the U.S. And as far as movie theaters, last year the blockbuster film “Black Panther” grossed an incredible $700 million in ticket sales.
So what does all this have to do with the automotive aftermarket? I frequently hear that electric and hybrid technologies are going to put an end to the reciprocating engine. But hold up. Let’s think this through for a second.
First, there are more than 272.1 million vehicles in the United States, most of them with fossil-fuel-burning engines. Where are they all going to go? In the United States we produce or sell – in a good year – 14 million to 16 million vehicles. Simple math says if we never sold another engine, they would all be gone in 16 years.
Actually, this past year, U.S. electric-vehicle sales eclipsed 1 million units for the first time. But that includes hybrids that still require or use a reciprocating engine. At these rates, there are going to be plenty of traditional drivetrains to service. I’m not even going to bring up the fact that we don’t have current resources on our grid to charge all of these vehicles.
But I think you can see what I’m getting at. The demise of the internal combustion engine is not as imminent as some may want to purport. But that’s just my 2 cents. I want to know what you think. Drop me a note at [email protected] and let us know your thoughts. Who knows? Your thoughts might just end up in a future video.