Electronic Suspension & Steering Component Demand

Autosphere » Mechanical » Electronic Suspension & Steering Component Demand
"Suppliers need to be ahead of the supply and demand of steering and suspension parts.", says Maggie Davison. Photo Maggie Davison

We went back to our three jobbers, Maggie, Doug and Bob to get the lowdown on demand for suspension and steering components.

Autosphere: With more vehicles adopting electronic features, such as EPAS steering, steering angle sensors, electronically adaptive damping, etc., how is that impacting demand for suspension and steering components at your locations?

Doug: These categories continue to grow in demand but are still a small portion in relation to the overall suspension and steering sales. These are still mainly dealer items as suppliers have been slow to make them available to the aftermarket.

Bob: Steering and suspension remain one of our top-selling segments. The newer electronic racks are challenging to find for certain applications. At this point, they have not impacted demand for other components.

Autosphere: Given the added cost of these components, not helped by rising inflation and business costs, what are some things jobbers need to consider when it comes to selling and acquiring these components?

Doug: Jobbers will always face the dilemma of what to stock and in what quantity. With the high dollar value, the ability to have a big stock on hand will also be a factor. As such, jobbers will have to “best guess” what to stock in the short term. This can lead to slow-moving inventory, losses on inventory when returned due to penalties and so forth. A lot of these categories have limited incidents of failure so far to be used to predict demand. Jobbers need to work closely with their vendor partners to develop good forecasts on anticipated demand to ensure they can adequately service their customers’ needs. Installation is also an issue due to the need for specialized tools for installing and programming which leads to the issue of Right to Repair.

Autosphere: As the average age of vehicles on the road continues to increase, how is that impacting demand for steering and suspension components, such as struts, shocks, tie rods, racks, ball joints, etc.?

Maggie: Suppliers need to be ahead of the supply and demand of steering and suspension parts. Customers are keeping their vehicles longer and steering and suspension parts are going to need to be replaced. Having the parts readily available, we will get sales and my shops will have a satisfied customer.

Doug: As vehicles age, the demand for steering and suspension increases. Steering, suspension, and struts are all wear items and the longer the vehicle is in service the more they wear and the demand increases. With the shortage of new vehicles, consumers have retained their vehicles and to ensure the safety of the vehicles, consumers will need to watch and replace these components. Most consumers don’t realize that all these parts are integral to braking and need to be maintained in good condition.

Autosphere: What are the most popular steering or suspension-related components you tend to sell and why?

Bob: Sales of front-end components continue to sell well with Quick Strut assemblies and control arms leading the way.

Doug: The most popular parts are control arms, lower steering shafts for struts, rack and pinion. The control arms category has seen huge growth as vehicles more from ball joint technology.

In both these areas we stock multiple lines due to customers’ preferences which makes it a challenge both in space for the inventory and inventory dollars.

These jobbers imply that steering and suspension products are selling well and the need for them is still very prevalent today.