Vision Zero Automotive Network, Advanced Vehicle Solutions & the Specialty Retailer
The original Vision Zero initiative started in Sweden. Volvo is one of the main proponents of the socially responsible organization. Even though OEM automakers are typically not known for social ethics versus capitalism, the core value of the original Vision Zero is, “Life and health can never be exchanged for other benefits within the society.” There is a new organization based on the principles of Vision Zero called the Vision Zero Automotive Network. It wants to harness the momentum of the original Vision Zero initiative and spearhead it into a campaign for legacy vehicle owners. The organization wants to spread the word that trained retailers can add and upgrade the safety equipment in their rides. With most vehicles in our aging fleets being around 10 years old, it only makes sense to create a program to drive consumer awareness. Ultimately, they can come to our shops to make sure they are getting top-notch safety equipment installed by professional installation techs at a fair price.
The people behind the Vision Zero Automotive Network are Jeff Varick from Brandmotion and Jim Warren, formerly of CarToys. According to Varick, “There are seven ADAS Advance Driver Assistance Systems modern safety technologies that the Boston Consulting Group studied, including 360° vision, blind-spot warning, backup cameras, collision avoidance, night vision, and adaptive headlights. There is only one technology the aftermarket does not do, which is adaptive headlights. People need to know what is possible.” An interesting aside (just in case a customer asks) on adaptive headlights is that it is the one technology not offered on the flagship Nissan GT-R – the reason being that the vehicle can corner faster than the headlight servos can swivel the lights! So, if standard headlights with LED technology is good enough for the GT-R, it makes sense that the aftermarket can live without it. Night vision with pedestrian and animal warning is far superior to adaptive headlights.
But back to the matter at hand: driving consumer awareness. The 12V industry has done campaigns to raise all ships before, but not specifically for safety systems. Pioneer, VOXX International, Firstech, and, of course, Brandmotion have all pledged their support for the new organization.
Ted Cardenas, vice president of Pioneer, sums it up best: “The integration of IoT-related features, such as real-time traffic, weather conditions, and cloud-based voice UI, are only a few examples of how the latest automotive infotainment can support critical situational awareness and attentive driving behavior. Advocating currently available products and services that enable consumers to update their existing vehicles with the latest technology and encourage drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and remain focused on the road underscores Pioneer’s participation in the Vision Zero Automotive Network.”
Aron Demers of VOXX International notes, “Not only will Vision Zero be an industry voice of conscious driving, but [will help in] promoting the ADAS category for our dealers to stimulate sales in the growing marketplace.”
The one hurdle we all face is consumers’ lack of knowledge about the technologies, and then, proving the aftermarket version can perform on par, or even better than, the best the OEM has to offer. For example, let’s take an owner of a 2010 Ford Escape. The manufacturer offered the vehicle with a small part of the side-view mirrors dedicated to concave lenses to offer a better field-of-view than a typical side-view mirror. It is simple, and works well. However, on the 2018 Ford Escape, the manufacturer offers BLIS Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert. BLIS and Cross Traffic Alert use radar sensors, which are located behind the rear bumper fascia on each side of the Escape. One caveat is the owner must ensure that these areas are clear of mud, snow and bumper stickers, since these obstructions can cause degraded performance. Not only can the aftermarket install a similar system on the 2010 Escape, but even integrate microwave sensors into the taillights for a seamless look, and have it be less prone to obstruction. Most likely, a customer’s sibling that is heading off to college will have a 2010 Escape – not the 2018 edition. Shouldn’t they have the same level of protection as Mom or Dad, who may have a brand-new model?
In addition to the major players in the 12V world, there are also smaller companies involved in marketing Advanced Driver Assistance Systems. However, these companies can find it difficult to enter the market in the United States, since they do not have a dedicated aftermarket channel. Moreover, most of the marketing horsepower is put into selling their bespoke products directly to OEMs – or selling the idea to larger manufacturers.
Advanced Vehicle Solutions
This is where Advanced Vehicle Solutions comes into play. The company, headed by industry stalwart Bob Goodman, seeks to be the go-between among smaller ADAS companies and United States regional reps/distributors. The distributors, in turn, will ultimately offer the wares to 12V retailers. Advanced Vehicle Solutions has a cadre of 13 manufacturers’ reps specifically versed in the emerging technologies.
“This is a logical step for me at this point in my career,” says Goodman. “I can now utilize my experience, knowledge and relationships without the constraints of a traditional employment relationship. Advanced Vehicle Solutions will prove to have an especially unique advantage to new suppliers attempting to enter a growing, yet volatile, market. Our close-working relationship with only a few select suppliers will enable Advanced Vehicle Solutions to assist in establishing their initial distribution by creating the necessary relationships within the marketplace. Today’s 12V aftermarket environment is a particularly harsh one, and merely having good product and lower prices will not guarantee success in today's marketplace. Many small companies with just one or two products simply cannot afford the necessary infrastructure to compete on a level playing field with the established players; thus, the need for Advanced Vehicle Solutions. We can help provide all sales and marketing functions and we will employ the expertise of additional professionals if necessary.”
For a product to be considered for marketing by Advanced Vehicle Solutions, it has to pass Goodman’s own test: quality, value and functionality. Goodman notes on quality: “Just a couple of years ago, we had a rear radar-based blind-spot detection system that required the installer to drill a few holes in the vehicle. Some of these products failed. Not only did the retailers have to suck up the cost of the unit, but [also] the additional repairs. The goal of Advanced Vehicle Solutions is to screen newcomers to the ADAS category by carefully selecting products. They must meet all three criteria. With the ADAS category growing at such a rapid rate, it has attracted dozens of suppliers almost overnight. This makes it difficult for distributors, expeditors and 12V specialists to determine which products are the best solutions for their customers. Advanced Vehicle Solutions addresses this with an established national network of manufacturers’ representatives already on board, selling hand-picked solutions. We’ve already secured agreements for our initial product offerings, and they will be available shortly to select resellers in both the U.S. and Canada. Most are exclusive to us.”
The first product that will be marketed to reps and retailers through Advanced Vehicle Solutions is called JustDrive. The company is based in Israel with other vehicle safety and cutting-edge tech companies such as MobilEye and Waze. The product is a quality steering-wheel cover with a built-in touch controller that integrates with the customer’s smartphone. It takes the typical steering wheel controls a step further to reduce driver distraction and allow drivers to keep their hands on the wheel. Moreover, the cover looks good, and to be installed properly, needs the help of a knowledgeable technician.
We look forward to seeing some of the other cutting-edge products Advanced Vehicle Solutions will bring to market – especially from the smaller players who might not otherwise have the opportunity to get into aftermarket mobile electronics specialty shops. The products we may be recommending and installing can contribute to Vision Zero, and save a life.