The automotive aftermarket focuses on the manufacture, reconstruction, distribution and sale of all parts of the vehicle after the sale of the vehicle by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to the consumer.
In 2016, the global turnover of this market reached 643,000 million € and it is estimated that it will reach 848,000 million € in 2022.
The great challenge presented by the automotive aftermarket is managing the millions of existing references on thousands of products available in hundreds of manufacturers.
The million dollar question is: How many different products exist in the automotive aftermarket?
The first approach for calculating the number of existing products would be based on all manufactured vehicles and analysing the different components that are assembled.
The main problem posed by this approach is that no one has a list of all the different vehicles that exist in the world. Think about it, we are not only talking about cars, vans and trucks, no! we are talking about tractors, trucks, industrial, boats, snowmobile, quads, motorcycles, etc. etc.
Another possible approach to know the number of existing products would be based on all the products manufactured by the component manufacturers. We could think that if we know everything that has been manufactured we will know the total number of products that exist, right?
Well, here we are faced with a very important question: are all the products manufactured by the different component manufacturers, which all have their own OE reference number, really different? Because one thing is to generate different reference numbers and another thing is that they are really different products, right?
How can we know if two OE products with their corresponding reference numbers are the same or not? Here we are already incorporating what is known as the grouping or service criteria.
I found the case of going to the official Volvo workshop for my private car XC90 from 2005 and having a conversation with the manager when he considered that two starter motors were different because they had different OEM Volvo reference numbers when the only difference they had was the color of some external plastics!
With this criterion from the head of the workshop, there really would be practically as many different products as OE reference numbers that exist in the market!
At the other extreme we would meet the expert mechanic who with a single product and the estimable help of a hammer and a welder, solves the problem for more than 1000 different applications!
It is clear that we must find an intermediate point of grouping or service criteria and that is why the codifications known as IAM (independent aftermarket manufacturer) appear. They are reference numbers created specifically for the aftermarket and that try to serve the needs of the market.
Normally each of these IAM reference numbers groups more than one OE and OEM reference number by means of which we are simplifying the number of different products needed to service the market and it gives us a clue as to how we can actually calculate the total number of different products that exist.
The idea would be: if we analyze an IAM codification, which by definition intends to service the market with the minimum of different reference numbers, we can know how many different products exist in the aftermarket, right?
But what is the issue with the use of IAM codification to resolve our question? Well basically two:
There is no IAM codification that groups all existing products of any kind.
The grouping criteria of the different IAM codifications are not same, so that the simultaneous use of different codifications to try to solve the first problem causes duplications and different groupings.
Therefore, if we take into account these two problems, we are back at another dead end! What is the final solution to this crossroads?
The solution we propose is to make a clustering (grouping) of all existing OEM or OE reference numbers in the market, taking into account the majority aftermarket criteria (using different codifications for each type of product) to be able to finish with the final number!
Of the total of 250,000 OE and OEM reference numbers that currently exist only for alternators and starter motors, if we group them according to the majority aftermarket criteria, they currently generate a total of 40,000 groupings!
Therefore, we have been able to accurately respond to the number of different products that exist (in our case it also includes those that have existed) in the automotive market.
The following million dollar questions would be: How many of these products are currently in demand? In what areas or countries? What demand levels or demand trend do they have? We will address these issues in subsequent blog posts!
Note: we are working on the calculation of the number of existing groupings for other products.