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CHICAGO -- Aftermarket industry executives who gathered here for the first eAftermarket Forum earlier this month were greeted with news that car makers are encroaching into their space and the most effective tool for protecting their businesses is the Internet. With a drop in new vehicle demand, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have their sights set on the aftermarket for profits, forum chairman Mort Schwartz told attendees. They threaten to snatch both consumers and technicians away from the industry.
"We look at OEMs as the greatest threat to our business," said Alan Bostwick, executive vp of PartsPlus. "They've got a lot of capital behind them."
OEM dealers overcome consumer anxiety about auto repair by virtue of their brand and name recognition, Bostwick said. He noted that General Motors has stand-alone repair facilities with up to 16 service bays that can repair numerous vehicle types and competes with independent shops for an ever-shorter supply of service technicians.
"GM plans 3,500 facilities in three years," he said. "They're building huge facilities with great waiting rooms. It's a captive market." "When did we leave the barn door open?" he wondered.
Brian Robb of iStarSystems said the aftermarket will fragment as OEMs take more control, first through inroads in collision repair work, "a …