August 28, 2017

The Aftermarket Analyst, August 2017

To Level 3 or not to Level 3 Audi’s recent announcement that its 2019 A8 sedan would have a Level 3 automated driving system gave new legs to the debate over whether Level 3 vehicles are safer than Level 1 or 2 vehicles. Some say we skip Level 3 altogether and move straight to Level 4 and 5 while others say it’s the logical next step. Just like many topics we encounter on the road to autonomy, the answer isn’t clear cut. SAE J3016 Back in January 2014, SAE International, the organization of aerospace, automotive and commercial-vehicle industry engineers, issued a set of definitions classifying six stages of autonomy (see their chart below). The U.S. Department of Transportation defined autonomy in five stages for a while but thankfully scrapped it in October 2016 and adopted the SAE standards. Think F40, a “bugeye” Sprite or even most lower-end cars today and you have Level 0. In the Levels 1 and 2, the driver remains in control of the vehicle, but the vehicle can assist or perform some tasks like warn you when you change lanes without signaling or maintain a safe cruising distance. In Levels 4 and 5, the vehicle can […]
March 31, 2017

The Aftermarket Analyst, April 2017

The Future of the Automobile It’s the topic at the forefront of everybody’s thinking. There’s nothing worse for the bottom line than getting stuck at the back of the pack, or to have not even gotten started in the first place. But when everybody has an opinion, and everybody has an angle with regards to automobiles and autonomy, how do you decide to whom you should listen? Are you persuaded by the futurists who promise a mobility utopia? Or are you persuaded by the less enthusiastic because we’ve been promised things before that haven’t panned out and you don’t want to get your hopes up? Can seemingly opposing viewpoints both be correct? In a word: yes. In two words: why not? It all comes down to what it is you’re talking about when you talk about autonomy. Some people envision relaxed drives up and down the interstate not having to pay attention between on and off ramps, maybe reading a book, watching a movie, or getting some sleep. Some people envision reinventing urban areas and returning concrete jungles back into something more natural. Some people envision an electric revolution where the internal combustion engine is banished to the ash heap […]
February 10, 2017

San Jose Mercury News: Staking a claim in the auto industry’s evolving technology

Read Dan’s interview with the San Jose Mercury News about the changes going on in the automotive industry and aftermarket: Staking a claim in the auto industry’s evolving technology
January 12, 2017

The Aftermarket Analyst, January 2017

A look back at some significant deals of 2016 The three trends Capstone Financial Group has identified as key to the auto aftermarket industry in the next year and beyond are: disintermediation, food chain acquisitions, and Detroit moving to Silicon Valley. We wrote about Silicon Valley in the last newsletter. To explain the other two trends, it helps to look back and review some key 2016 deals; specifically deals in the Jeep/4×4/Truck Accessory category. Key 2016 Jeep/4×4/Truck Accessories deals Nearly all of the above are examples of companies that not only have dealer networks, but sell their products online directly to the consumer. And importantly, all of the companies have similar multi-pronged sales strategies. This doesn’t necessarily portend the end of dealer networks or installers—although they have their own challenges to consider—it just means that manufacturers are taking advantage of the technology that wasn’t available to them 15 or 10 or 5 years ago. Online sales and marketing allows companies to expand their reach exponentially, and an educated consumer is a boon to the manufacturer and the dealer and installer network. Adapt or die. The companies listed in the table are all adapting. A Prime Example Bestop is a prime […]