Continuing just-auto/QUBE's series of interviews with tier one component manufacturers, we spoke to Ruslan Leontiev, product manager starters & alternators and wiper blades, and Alexey Bartashevich, senior manager aftermarket products, both Denso Aftermarket & Industrial Solutions.
How is your European aftermarket business shaping up this year?
Denso AMIS Management: We are expecting strong results, underpinned by a number of expansions to cement our place at the top of the aftermarket. The entire product portfolio will continue to expand, bringing many new vehicles to the car parc Denso covers.
Further additions to our thermal, rotating parts and lambda sensors product lines have ensured Denso is consistently providing the most advanced technology in the aftermarket, providing customers with ranges that can cater for their every need, and this will continue through to the 2017 financial year.
To what extent does the aftermarket follow the OE trends for wiper products?
Ruslan Leontiev: The wiper blade market is slightly different. Many expect OE parts to be of higher quality versus IAM products, and this is usually true.
With wiper blades an easy product to install, retrofit wiper blades, which can be installed by motorists to replace OE equipment, have become widely available on the market, offering cheap and often lower quality replacement parts.
Unlike other manufacturers, Denso's retrofit blades provide a more advanced solution to the standard blades installed as OE, and superior to other IAM [independent aftermarket] products, building on OE quality and technology.
Denso has two such lines, retrofit flat blades to upgrade on conventional frame blades and retrofit hybrid blades, which offer superior performance and the most advanced technology on the market. Both lines match OE quality level and are packaged with universal U-hook connectors for easy installation.
Besides the retrofit lines, the Denso range also contains wipers with OE connectors which are impossible to replace with U-hooks.
The European aftermarket is flooded with non-branded low-quality parts yet we understand that your aftermarket products are manufactured to match OE quality. How do you support your aftermarket customers with your OE technical knowhow?
Denso AMIS Management: We are able to offer high-quality product ranges featuring many Denso world-first innovations which directly trickle down into the aftermarket sector. Denso's focus on OE R&D means that we are able to offer the same level of advanced technologies to aftermarket customers. Our strategy is to expand OE product availability in the aftermarket and have full market coverage. Using that OE expertise, we also look to inform the industry on the benefits of using them, providing bulletins, manuals, training seminars and events.
In what ways are you maintaining and increasing your product market share in starters and alternators in the UK/Europe?
Ruslan Leontiev: The OE quality and technology we bring from decades of working with manufacturers is what sets apart our offering from the starters and alternators market and remains key to our market share. This means our IAM range is frequently updated with the premium products that manufacturers fit as original equipment and which feature the latest technology.
Many workshops and distributors need to be confident that not only do they have a manufacturer-specified part but that they have the right replacement part for any vehicle or customer that comes in. By delivering multiple range extensions to the starters and alternators range each year, we can keep broadening our car parc coverage and present customers with a comprehensive all-needs range.
Looking at the distribution channels in Europe, what are the big changes you are seeing at the moment? Is there anything in particular in the change or structure that is driving that? And what does this mean for Denso?
Alexey Bartashevich: The European market is a complex one, with very distinct regions and structures. In general, though, there is a visible trend toward shortening the distribution chain which runs alongside the growing importance of large distributors, buying groups and alliances in the industry. The foundation of the market is built on these large distributors, who reflect the requirements and expectations of the end customer – motorists.
The digitalisation of our society is also changing the face of the aftermarket – particularly its distribution channels. However, the inevitable impact of this shift towards digitalisation will differ from market to market, and Denso is exploring those challenges and opportunities.
What do you see happening to brand names in the market place? Is the power of brands increasing or diminishing with the changes?
Alexey Bartashevich: The changes are happening as we speak, with a number of mergers and acquisitions and alliances forming, while medium-sized businesses and brands are being replaced by private labels. Key OE manufacturers like Denso will remain a hugely important part of the industry. Customers will continue to value known brands and trust the products and services from companies like Denso which consistently produce quality, environmentally friendly parts and innovative solutions.