by John G. Smith
The repair and upkeep of Class 6-8 trucks and trailers is being transformed by many of the same factors that are transforming the business of moving freight. Suppliers and manufacturers face forces that are upending traditional business models, from telematics to electric vehicles and e-commerce.
That was the message during the annual Heavy Duty Aftermarket Dialogue in Las Vegas Jan. 28.
Advances in telematics systems are bringing the trucking industry closer to the prognostics that can identify a part will fail before it actually breaks. The electric vehicles that are being developed and in some cases already on the roads use a fraction of the parts that make up a traditional diesel design. And automation in the form of advanced driver assistance systems can reduce collision-related damage but introduce unique maintenance needs of their own.
Then there’s e-commerce, with sources like Amazon looking to sell fleets parts online in competition with traditional distributors and dealers.
Recent announcements about plans to electrify vehicles were clearly at the top of mind. Such trucks would see a shift from 12-volt systems to as much as 800 volts. Maybe more concerning to the aftermarket is that an electric vehicle might contain 7,000 parts rather than the more than 30,000 parts in a diesel-powered over the road tractor.
No more valves to replace. No combustion-related equipment at all.
Still, the electrification faces barriers of its own.