Automotive Industry and Markets


Just like the automotive sector as a whole, the automotive aftermarket is in a state of flux. The aftermarket business includes the maintenance and repair of vehicles, as well as sales of spare parts and services. The challenges it faces are many and varied:

For example the vehicle fleet in Germany is getting older, the average age having now reached 9.3 years, making familiar tasks even more challenging: Spare parts have to be provided at reasonable cost over an even longer period of time. This is compounded by completely new challenges, for example by the transition from old to new technologies or ongoing automation. Repair concepts and training requirements are changing as a consequence.


Logistics is a critical success factor in the aftermarket. Experts are therefore continually at work improving processes. The VDA has already published several VDA recommendations on logistics issues.

A project group drawn from member companies is currently working on a standard for logistic information within a Data Matrix Code (DMC) as an integral part of the product packaging label. The background to this is increasing warehouse automation. This increases process speed and reduces errors. Scanners must be able to read information for this automation to work. If the supplier and customer agree on a common set of information within a Data Matrix Code, this supports scanning processes better.

Integrating a Data Matrix Code into product packaging labels can also make trademark counterfeiting more difficult. This is achieved by serializing the DMC. This involves assigning a randomly generated, absolutely unique number per label. The VDA recommendation on the Data Matrix Code (“standardization of logistical information on product packaging in the aftermarket”) is scheduled for the end of 2018. It takes account of the findings of VDA recommendation 9004 “Nomenclature for an Optically Neutral Identification Code for Spare Parts and its Verification.”

Non-tariff trade barriers

Non-tariff trade barriers (NTB) continue to cause the vehicle and parts manufacturers major problems. Different regulations concerning certifications and labeling in particular make for unnecessary hurdles in the aftermarket. In principle the regulations are indeed sensible; they are intended to check whether quality and safety standards are being complied with. This is why standard UN regulatory requirements were instituted. However, there are additional sets of regulations, especially in the US and China. Ever more countries are introducing their own standards and regulations. In most cases, these provide no additional benefit to the consumer but increase supply chain costs and complexity in the aftermarket instead.

The VDA is working to raise the political and governmental awareness of the pressures created in the aftermarket by non-tariff trade barriers. The objective must remain to create global standards. At the same time, the association is helping its members to gain an overview of the plethora of trade barriers relevant to the aftermarket and to recognize the consequent need for action.

Also affected is so-called remanufacturing, namely the maintenance or refurbishment of defective used parts. These are often overhastily seen as waste, although after professional refurbishment they are again able to fulfill their original purpose. Using the definition of remanufacturing drawn up in 2013, the VDA, together with other associations, is advocating greater acceptance of it, because remanufacturing extends the product life cycle, making a valuable contribution to resource protection.

Karin Ghirodi
Karin Ghirodi Head of Department Aftermarket

Tel: +49 30 897842-410  
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