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Export of Aussie car parts to increase: AAAA

Mr worldwide: Though Australian parts-makers have only had limited access to overseas vehicle designs, the new Automotive Innovation Centres, and its close ties to the US’s SEMA, could pave the way for more local component exports.

New AAAA research labs could open Australian-designed parts to much larger US market

8 Apr 2019

THE Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA)’s new Automotive Innovation Centres (AIC) could pave the way for local parts manufacturers to design and export components to US-centric models such as the full-sized Ford F-Series truck.
During the Australian Auto Aftermarket Expo last week, AAAA chief executive Stuart Charity told journalists that the AIC is the second laboratory of its type, which mirrors sister organisation Specialty Equipment Market Association’s (SEMA) own set-up in the US.
Both centres are able to scan, measure and catalogue minute vehicle data, which is then shared between countries – potentially unlocking the door for Australian parts-makers to produce items for vehicles in the US’s larger market.
“I think potential new companies will come into the market, but I think what this will do is allow companies to expand their product range, but also to develop for export markets,” Mr Charity said.
“This isn’t just about developing products for vehicles for Australia, we’re going to have a collaborative operation with the SEMA garage and share data, so we’ll be able to access data for vehicles that will never ever see the light of day in Australia.
“Companies like Harrop and ARB and others that are huge in the US market, they’ll be able to develop their products here for US export, so there’s a lot of upside for this.
“I think it (AIC) is really going to give our current manufacturers and potential new ones, a shot in the arm to be able to increase the quality and reduce the cost and time in development of their products.”
Although the AAAA used a Ram 2500 to showcase its scanning technology at the expo, Ford’s F-Series pick-up has long been a sales leader in the region, clocking 1,055,024 sales in North America and Canada last year, which is just 98,087 units shy of Australia’s overall new-car sales tally in 2018.
If Australian parts manufacturers gain access to Ford F-Series vehicle data, it could open the door to a new market for components such as suspension lift kits, off-road shocks and bullbars.
Similarly, Ford’s locally developed Ranger ute recently hit US showrooms and, with the right vehicle data available, Australian-designed and manufactured aftermarket parts could follow suit.
Mr Charity said giving parts-makers access to vehicle data would be a boon for car manufacturers as well, given certain models such as off-roaders and pick-ups can be heavily modified by owners.
“Everyone in the US wants to personalise their vehicles, to have a bodykit or a bullbar or whatever it is, on launch is a real advantage for OEMs,” he said.
“It’s all about linking the availability of accessories and other parts and packages for vehicles, having them ready on launch, because that’s what drives sales.”
As a result, Mr Charity said many members of the AAAA are optimistic about the next three years of business, and are even predicting increased revenue and growth, especially in export sales, as the new AIC come online.
“Our major markets in order are the US, Europe and the UK, and Australian companies are global leaders in areas like four-wheel drive, high-performance and motorsport,” he said.
“Those parts are basically born on features and benefits and on innovation … Australia has always been great at doing small run, in global terms, and really bringing that innovation and quality to our products.
“We will lift the bar in terms of the way we go about designing, prototyping and validating products.”

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