The aftermarket’s dynamic shift towards technology, sustainability and enhanced consumer experience

The automotive aftermarket is poised for a significant transformation in the next 20 years, driven by advancements in mobility, electrification, digital technologies and evolving consumer behaviors. I’ve compiled a list of ideas of where the aftermarket could be headed. 

The automotive aftermarket is poised for a significant transformation in the next 20 years, driven by advancements in mobility, electrification, digital technologies and evolving consumer behaviors. I’ve compiled a list of ideas of where the aftermarket could be headed. 

My perspective has been influenced by my experiences at various shows throughout 2023. Attending events like AAPEX, Rematec Amsterdam, Automechanika Shanghai, Taipei AMPA/AutoTronics and E-mobility Taiwan 2035, has been instrumental in shaping my understanding. These platforms have offered me a firsthand look at the evolving trends, emerging technologies and market shifts in the global automotive and aftermarket sectors. 

Here’s are some of the possibilities:

Rise of Electric Vehicle (EV) aftermarket

As the world moves towards electric vehicles, the aftermarket will see a shift in demand from internal combustion engine (ICE) parts to EV components. This includes batteries, electric motors and advanced electronic components. The maintenance needs of EVs differ significantly from traditional vehicles, leading to new service and repair protocols.

Increasing Demand for Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS)

Vehicles are becoming more autonomous, equipped with systems like lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking. The aftermarket will need to adapt by offering services and parts for these complex systems, requiring technicians with specialized training in electronics and software.

Connectivity and digital services

The future car is a “connected” vehicle, offering a range of digital services from entertainment to telematics. Aftermarket businesses will have the opportunity to provide upgrades and maintenance for in-vehicle infotainment systems, internet connectivity modules and software updates.

Proliferation of shared and autonomous mobility

With the rise of ride-sharing and the potential advent of autonomous vehicles, cars will be used more intensively, leading to more frequent maintenance and parts replacement. The aftermarket will need to cater to fleet operators in addition to individual car owners, adapting to the unique demands of these high-usage vehicles.

Advanced manufacturing techniques

3D printing and advanced manufacturing will enable the aftermarket to produce parts on-demand, reducing inventory costs and enabling customization. This technology will be particularly useful for producing parts for older models or low-volume vehicles.

Enhanced diagnostics and predictive maintenance

The integration of IoT (Internet of Things) in vehicles allows for real-time diagnostics and predictive maintenance. The aftermarket can leverage this data to provide proactive maintenance services, reducing downtime and improving customer satisfaction.

Sustainability and circular economy

There will be a growing focus on sustainability, with an emphasis on remanufacturing, recycling and reusing parts. This shift will reduce waste and support environmental goals, while also offering cost-effective options to consumers. For more on this topic, read more about Rematec.

Changes in consumer behavior

As consumers become more tech-savvy and environmentally conscious, their expectations from the automotive aftermarket will evolve. They will demand high-quality, sustainable and digitally compatible solutions. The aftermarket must adapt by offering more online services and ensuring transparency in pricing and service quality.

Regulatory changes and compliance

With the introduction of new technologies, regulatory frameworks will evolve. The aftermarket will need to stay updated on these changes, ensuring compliance with safety, environmental and data security regulations.

Collaboration and Integration

The future will see more collaboration between OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), technology companies and aftermarket players. Integrated platforms and partnerships will be key in offering comprehensive mobility solutions.

The automotive aftermarket is set for a dynamic evolution, shaped by technological advancements and changing consumer preferences. Businesses in this sector must adapt to these changes, leveraging new technologies and aligning with emerging trends to stay competitive and relevant.

Evolution in battery technology and services

As battery technology advances, the aftermarket will develop specialized services for battery health monitoring, refurbishment and recycling. This includes handling high-voltage systems and understanding the lifecycle of different types of batteries.

Augmented Reality (AR) in repairs and maintenance

AR technology will become a crucial tool in the aftermarket. It can be used for complex repairs and maintenance, providing technicians with real-time, 3D overlays of vehicle components and repair instructions, thereby improving service accuracy and efficiency.

Customization and personalization

With digital manufacturing and design tools becoming more accessible, there will be a rise in demand for personalized and custom vehicle parts and accessories. The aftermarket will offer a broader range of customization options, catering to individual style and performance preferences.

Advanced training and certification

Technicians in the aftermarket will require advanced training and certification, particularly in areas like EV technology, high-tech diagnostics and ADAS systems. This will lead to the emergence of specialized training programs and certifications.

Growth in mobile and on-demand services

Convenience will be a key driver in the aftermarket. Mobile repair services and on-demand maintenance will become more prevalent, with companies offering vehicle servicing at customers’ homes or workplaces.

Integration of AI and machine learning

Artificial intelligence and machine learning will transform various aspects of the aftermarket, from inventory management to customer service. Predictive analytics will play a significant role in forecasting part failures and optimizing supply chains.

Cybersecurity concerns and solutions

As vehicles become more connected, cybersecurity will be a major concern. The aftermarket will need to provide solutions to protect vehicles from hacking and ensure the security of connected vehicle systems.

Expansion of retrofitting services

There will be a growing market for retrofitting older vehicles with new technology, such as electric powertrains, advanced navigation systems or emission control technologies, offering a more cost-effective alternative to buying new vehicles.

Collaborative consumption models

The sharing economy could extend to the aftermarket, with models like tool sharing, community repair workshops, or shared parts libraries becoming popular among consumers seeking cost-effective and sustainable options.

Increased use of big data

The aftermarket will leverage big data to gain insights into consumer behavior, vehicle performance and market trends. This data-driven approach will aid in decision-making, from inventory management to personalized marketing strategies.

The distribution of automotive parts in the aftermarket is likely to undergo significant changes over the next 20 years, driven by technological advancements, evolving consumer expectations, and environmental considerations. Here are some key trends and innovations that could reshape this landscape:

Autonomous delivery vehicles

The use of autonomous vehicles for part delivery is expected to become more prevalent. These self-driving delivery vehicles can operate more efficiently and continuously, reducing delivery times and costs. They could also navigate through traffic more effectively, ensuring timely deliveries even in congested urban areas.

Drone delivery systems

Drones could revolutionize the speed and efficiency of part deliveries, especially for urgent repairs. Drones can bypass road traffic entirely, delivering parts directly from distribution centers or warehouses to repair shops. This could drastically reduce waiting times for parts.

Advanced inventory management with AI and IoT

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) will enhance inventory management, predicting demand more accurately and automating restocking processes. This will ensure that parts are available when and where they are needed, reducing the need for rush deliveries.

Localized 3D printing of parts

3D printing technology could enable the on-demand manufacturing of certain automotive parts at or near repair shops. This would eliminate the need for some deliveries, as parts can be printed as required, reducing wait times and inventory costs.

Electrification of delivery fleet

As the focus on sustainability grows, we will likely see a shift towards electric delivery vehicles. This move not only reduces the carbon footprint of the delivery process but also aligns with the broader automotive industry’s shift towards electrification.

Integration of e-Commerce platforms

The rise of e-Commerce platforms will streamline the ordering process. Repair shops will have access to a broader range of suppliers, potentially with integrated systems that automatically order parts based on diagnostic data from the vehicle.

Hyperloop and high-speed rail logistics

For long-distance part deliveries, we might (might!) see the use of advanced transportation systems like hyperloops or high-speed rails. This could significantly reduce the time it takes to transport parts across long distances. Yes, this is probably a long way off, probably more than 20 years.

Blockchain for supply chain transparency

Blockchain technology could be employed to enhance transparency and efficiency in the automotive parts supply chain. It would provide accurate tracking of parts, reduce counterfeiting and ensure the integrity of the supply chain.

Increased use of urban warehousing

To facilitate rapid delivery, there may be an increase in urban warehousing and micro-fulfillment centers. These facilities, located closer to end-users, can significantly cut down delivery times.

Subscription and predictive ordering models

We may see the development of subscription-based or predictive ordering services where parts are automatically dispatched based on predictive maintenance schedules, reducing the need for emergency part deliveries.

These changes would represent a significant shift from the current model, focusing on efficiency, speed, sustainability and the integration of new technologies. The key will be balancing these innovations with the need for reliability and cost-effectiveness in the automotive aftermarket.

The design and manufacturing of automotive aftermarket parts are poised for substantial transformation over the next 20 years, influenced by technological innovations, environmental considerations, and changing market demands. Here’s an overview of the potential changes:

Advanced materials

There will be a significant shift towards advanced materials like high-strength alloys, composites and sustainable materials. These materials offer superior performance, durability, and are often more environmentally friendly. This shift will necessitate new manufacturing techniques and skills.

3D printing and additive manufacturing

3D printing will revolutionize part production in the aftermarket. It allows for on-demand manufacturing, reduces inventory costs and enables the production of complex geometries that are difficult or impossible with traditional methods. Customization for specific vehicle needs or consumer preferences will become easier and more cost-effective.

Electrification and compatibility

With the automotive industry moving towards electrification, aftermarket part manufacturers will need to design parts that are compatible with electric vehicles (EVs). This includes not just mechanical parts but also electrical and electronic components.

Smart and connected components

The rise of connected vehicles will lead to demand for aftermarket parts that can integrate with these systems. Smart components with embedded sensors and connectivity capabilities will be developed to enhance vehicle performance, safety and user experience.

Sustainable manufacturing practices

There will be an increased focus on sustainability in manufacturing processes. This includes reducing waste, recycling materials and using renewable energy sources. The circular economy concept will gain traction, promoting the remanufacturing and refurbishing of parts.

Automation and robotics

Manufacturing processes will see greater automation with the use of robotics and AI. This will improve efficiency, precision, and consistency in part production and help in managing complex supply chains.

Modular design

Parts will be designed more modularly to allow for easier repairs, upgrades or replacements. This modularity will extend the life of parts and vehicles, reducing waste and catering to a growing consumer demand for sustainable practices.

Customization through digital platforms

The use of digital platforms for part design and customization will become more prevalent. Consumers will be able to request custom-designed parts online, which can then be manufactured on-demand using advanced manufacturing methods.

Regulatory compliance and standards

As technology evolves, so will regulations and standards for aftermarket parts. Manufacturers will need to ensure that their products meet evolving safety, environmental and quality standards.

Integration of software and firmware

The importance of software in vehicle performance will increase, leading to a market for aftermarket software updates, enhancements and security patches. This could include performance tuning, feature upgrades and cybersecurity measures.

These changes indicate a future where the automotive aftermarket is more dynamic, sustainable, and technologically advanced. Manufacturers who adapt to these changes and invest in new technologies and skills will be well-positioned to succeed in this evolving market.

The repair side of the automotive aftermarket is a crucial area that will undergo significant changes in the next 20 years. The evolution of vehicle technology, the advent of new tools and diagnostics systems, and changing consumer expectations will reshape how vehicles are repaired. Here are some key changes and trends that we can expect:

Advanced diagnostic tools

As vehicles incorporate more complex electronic systems and connected technologies, diagnostic tools will become more sophisticated. Technicians will use advanced scanners and software capable of interfacing with a vehicle’s computer systems to quickly diagnose issues, often with real-time support from AI-driven diagnostics.

Training and skill development

The skillset required for automotive technicians will evolve. There will be a greater emphasis on understanding electronics, software and advanced materials. Continuous training and certification will become necessary as new vehicle technologies, like electric vehicles (EVs) and autonomous driving systems, become more prevalent.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in training and repairs

AR and VR technologies will be used extensively for training mechanics, providing immersive, hands-on experiences without the need for physical vehicles. AR can also assist technicians during repairs by overlaying digital information, like repair instructions and diagrams, onto the physical vehicle components.

Electrification of vehicles

As the market shifts towards EVs, technicians will need tools and safety equipment specifically designed for high-voltage systems. Repair shops will require updates to accommodate EV-specific needs, including battery service stations and charging infrastructure.

Remote diagnostics and telematics

Vehicles equipped with telematics systems will enable remote diagnostics, allowing technicians to assess a vehicle’s condition before it arrives at the repair shop. This advance information can streamline the repair process, ensuring that necessary parts and tools are ready.

3D printing for replacement parts

3D printing could become a common tool in repair shops for producing custom or hard-to-find parts. This technology will reduce wait times for parts and allow for more cost-effective repairs, especially for older or less common vehicles.

Sustainability in repairs

There will be a growing emphasis on sustainable repair practices, including the use of environmentally friendly materials and processes. This includes recycling parts, using sustainable consumables and minimizing waste.

Cybersecurity measures

As vehicles become more connected, cybersecurity will become an important aspect of vehicle repair. Technicians will need to ensure that vehicle software is up to date and secure from hacking or unauthorized access.

Mobile and on-demand repair services

Mobile repair services could become more common, offering convenience to customers. Technicians could travel to the customer’s location equipped with all necessary tools and parts, enabled by advanced logistics and inventory management.

Collaboration with manufacturers and software developers

Repair shops will need to work closely with vehicle manufacturers and software developers to stay updated on the latest technologies and repair protocols. This collaboration will ensure that repairs meet the required standards and integrate seamlessly with advanced vehicle systems.

These changes indicate a future where vehicle repair is more technology-driven, efficient, and customer-focused. Repair shops and technicians who adapt to these changes will be better positioned to meet the demands of modern vehicles and their owners.


For the latest news and information on the global automotive aftermarket industry, visit https://aftermarketintel.com. Do you have news? Contact Aftermarket Intel Editor Mark Phillips at mark@lpnewmedia.com. He’s on LinkedIn here.

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