LAS VEGAS – Compared with the wheel and tire companies, those with aftermarket advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) have had a relatively small presence at the annual SEMA show here.
But their numbers are growing, says a top official of SEMA, which recently commissioned a study finding opportunities for companies to profit from the sale of aftermarket ADAS systems in the U.S.
“Yes, there is a market for aftermarket ADAS equipment to be retrofitted (and) that market is $1.5 billion out to the year 2022,” John Waraniak, SEMA vice president-vehicle technology, tells WardsAuto of the study, conducted by the Center for Automotive Research/Ducker Worldwide.
“So it’s a pretty small window that has opened up, yet it’s a whole new area that aftermarket didn’t even exist for these systems (in recent history).”
Ten to 15 years ago, just a smattering of companies were displaying what now could be considered first-generation ADAS technologies such as auto-dimming mirrors and electronic stability control. Waraniak says at this year’s SEMA there are about 100 ADAS-related companies displaying their wares.
While the vast majority are focusing on first-gen ADAS like rear backup cameras or tire-pressure monitoring systems, he says about 25 are showing products with more advanced technologies such as blindspot detection and forward collision warning.
Two of those companies are Cub Elecparts of Taiwan and Epsilon Electronics of California.
“So if somebody doesn’t buy a $60,000 (Ford F-150) they don’t get blindspot, but I think everybody should get it. It’s safer for everybody,” Augustin Leung, vice president-ADAS for Cub, says at the company’s booth.
Cub, an OE and aftermarket sensor and switch supplier, is displaying three vehicle blindspot modules using radar at this year’s SEMA: a $799 universal system, a $999 RV/trailering package and a $1,499 system integrated into fullsize-pickup-truck taillights.
“For the aftermarket this would be the first time somebody will introduce such a product,” Leung says of the pickup-truck system, which is pricier than the others due to integration into an aftermarket taillight.
The other two systems attach a radar unit via an adhesive pad to the underside of bumpers.
The three systems are set to go on sale through Cub’s aftermarket customers, and possibly Amazon and Best Buy, in the first half of next year. A forward-collision warning system, using millimeter wave radar and requiring a module be placed in the grille, launches before the end of this year for $899.
While professional installation is recommended for all the systems, none require splicing into the vehicle wiring, Leung says.
The first two systems are plug-and-play, while the $1,499 pickup system needs information from the turn signal and reverse lights, which is relatively simple.
“So we’re just taking that positive power from the bulb to know that you’re using the turn signal or the reverse lights,” Leung says.
Epsilon, maker of Soundstream/Power Acoustik aftermarket audio and infotainment systems, is showing at an off-site location here its camera-based Power Acoustik Drive Alert system, which went on sale in Walmarts across the U.S. in September for $80 and features lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning, as well as audio and video recording to an SD card.
Unlike an earlier system that required hard wiring and recommended professional installation, this system plugs in with a cigarette-lighter adapter and is DIY, says Epsilon’s Paul Goldberg, vice president-sales and marketing.
Goldberg says a USB adapter also is available. “The only tough part is where do you want to run the wire? But once you hide the wire everything is fine. It’s already set up,” he says. “Everything is synchronized. It will automatically find the white lines or yellow (road) lines.”
The Drive Alert unit is about the size of a GoPro video camera and attaches to a windshield with a suction cup.
Both the Cub and Epsilon ADAS systems have audible and visual warnings to notify drivers of vehicles in their blindspots, movement out of their lane or when they are getting too close to the vehicle ahead.
Goldberg says roughly 30,000 Drive Alert systems have been sold thus far.
While at the OE level the price of ADAS technologies may be going down, and their availability across various model lines is going up, Waraniak, Leung and Goldberg still see aftermarket ADAS as necessary well into the future.
“On average people are keeping their cars for 12 years,” says Goldberg. “There’s still used vehicles out there. We think we can get somewhere between seven and 10 years out of the market.”
Says Leung of blindspot monitoring: “There’s still going to be many vehicles that will not have it.”
For SEMA, the issue of keeping today’s vehicles, with 100 ECUs on board and 100 million lines of software code, in compliance with these retrofitted safety systems is key.
“It’s a neural network onboard the vehicle, and that’s the challenge for the aftermarket, because the OEMs certainly know how to do it. But then when you add a part or change a part or modify a part, we want our members to do that in confidence,” Waraniak says. “I’ll call it customizing with confidence. Putting the vehicle back into OEM compliance, because that’s the right thing to do. It’s not the law so to speak – with some of the regulations like ESC it certainly is, but with ADAS it’s the Wild West. There are no standards for these systems yet.”
To that end, he says SEMA has trained and continues to train technicians to install ADAS technologies and is helping the aftermarket develop scanning tools with the collision-repair industry to make sure all systems are in compliance.
ADAS is seen as a precursor to self-driving vehicles. But Waraniak says an autonomous future should pose no threat to SEMA members, whose bread-and-butter business is customization.
“(The customization trend is) going to be bigger, because more people want their cars personalized, but you’re going to personalize in a different way,” he says, noting artificial intelligence-based customization will become a thing, driven by tech-savvy Millennials.
Appearance changes to vehicles also will remain popular, he believes, noting Millennials want to fit in but be different at the same time.
“I call it safety performance. SEMA’s been all about going fast, and then 50 or 60 years ago it was all about, how can I stop fast too? So you’ve got companies like Brembo and others that started up. Now we’re into a new phase of safety performance becoming cool, particularly with Millennials and the next generation of drivers.”