Being cognisant of the changes in the hybrid parts market will help jobbers maintain an updated inventory.
With hybrid vehicles running on roads for over 20 years now, auto service shops have been regularly finding them in their bays. Consequently, jobbers are required to keep their inventory up-to-date on hybrid vehicle parts to meet the demands of their customers quickly and efficiently.
Parts in demand
Since a hybrid vehicle is equipped with an internal combustion engine (ICE), traditional parts are still very much in demand. “We need to remember that parts for these vehicles have been available for a long time now—for more than 20 years in some cases. As they age, these vehicles still need the routine parts that non-hybrids would require. We have seen good demand for tires, suspension parts, filters, brakes, and lots of other maintenance items. Certain parts are always needed, and they have nothing to do with the hybrid propulsion system,” says David Cochrane, Regional Sales Manager, Licenced AST/TCT—Canada, Delphi Technologies—Aftermarket.
When it comes to electrical parts, the demand for replacement batteries has gone up according to Joe Mercanti, Channel Sales Manager, WORLDPAC Canada. “We dabble with these batteries a lot at the moment, but not a lot of other items have been in demand,” he says. Since a greater number of hybrids are currently operational in the U.S. rather than Canada, the market there is better aware of what to expect. With WORLDPAC operating out of the U.S. as well, it helps understand what Canada can expect in the coming years, notes Mercanti.
It is not enough to just know what parts are currently trending. Jobbers need to update their inventory regularly and keep a lookout for expected changes in the marketplace. “We are fortunate to have access to information from our U.S. operation. Hybrids are quite popular in certain areas, like California, where we do business. So, we have all the requisite parts in stock with us,” explains Mercanti. If demand arises in the Canadian market, the company is able to source the appropriate parts and transfer them here.
“Our product managers constantly keep a check on what is available. Therefore, we have an inventory that shows what is required in the marketplace,” he continues.
Efficient jobbers already maintain good inventories for hybrid parts and are doing good business with them. “When updating inventory, there is no special rule that needs to be followed. It is just a matter of keeping track of what parts are currently popular,” says Cochrane.
With all types of parts easily available in the market, being intelligent in maintaining stocks is also important. They should have regular communication with their service providers to see what is going on, according to Cochrane. “Manufacturers, for example, may offer three fuel pumps and three gasoline pumps with notations that say it is for the S hybrid, the SE hybrid and the titanium hybrid. It might be the same part number. So, unless somebody had a hybrid fleet, they might not need that part even though it is available from Delphi,” he explains.
Cochrane believes that margins on hybrid parts are also not going to be higher than ICE vehicle components, especially when it comes to traditional parts. It will be a selective, specialised market. However, demand will be driven by how service providers tackle these vehicles. “The best fix available is training technicians to service these vehicles. The more they take them in, the more there will be the demand for parts,” notes Cochrane.