ARVINMERITOR executives believe the company's Commercial Vehicle Aftermarket unit is well positioned to benefit from a market shift that has truck fleets of all types extending the lifecycles of trucks, tractors, and trailers. Average truck age is at 6.3 years and rising.
Longer lifecycles are expected to boost demand for heavy-duty truck aftermarket parts. Replacement parts demand should begin to accelerate as the current recession eases. Aftermarket parts sales typically serve as a leading indicator, according to ArvinMeritor officials who spoke at a December 2001 press conference at their Commercial Vehicle Aftermarket (CVA) division headquarters in Florence, Kentucky.
Factors contributing to the longer lifecycles include a slow economy and a tremendous glut of low-mileage used trucks. With freight volumes down right now, many fleets are parking their older tractors and deferring non-essential maintenance.
“We believe this economic slowdown will last 12 to 18 months,” said Mark Purtilar, ArvinMeritor CVA vice-president and general manager, the Americas. “However, the impact of the used truck surplus may go on much longer. Used truck inventories remain between 70,000 and 130,000. Optimists suggest we could see significant reductions in those inventories by June 2002, while pessimists think the problem will last into 2004.”
Once the economy picks up, a big challenge for many fleets will be arranging service work on their vehicles. Many fleets shut down their maintenance shops when they went to the shorter trade cycles. This problem will be an opportunity for enterprising aftermarket parts outlets.
“Service capacity will be a challenge for fleets that have outsourced maintenance,” said Tim Bauer, ArvinMeritor CVA director of sales for North America. “Parts distributors with service capabilities will benefit most from the coming upturn.”
As a supplier to parts distributors worldwide, ArvinMeritor will be able to help parts distributors provide customers with virtually everything needed to keep heavy-duty vehicles in top running order. The CVA product portfolio includes brakes, drivelines, suspensions, axles clutches, tire inflation systems, and other truck-related parts and components. Parts are sold under several brands, including Meritor and Euclid.
With more than 115,000 active parts numbers, CVA serves customers across North America. Warehouses serving the North American market are in Florence KY (440,000 sq ft) and Brampton ON, Canada (37,000 sq ft). CVA also operates parts warehouses in Brazil, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Mexico.
The Internet will play a growing role in the aftermarket parts business, and ArvinMeritor has responded by launching XpresswayPlus.com, which is designed to facilitate parts ordering and cataloging by parts distributors. Features include order status, online catalog, new product details, order creation, and customer service.