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    • By Counterman
      It’s no secret that the heart of an electric vehicle is its high-voltage (HV) battery.
      There are a number of electrical circuits and protection devices found within an HV battery assembly. These circuits work in conjunction with the vehicle’s battery-management system (BMS) to ensure safety and battery longevity.
      It’s not uncommon to have several hundred lithium cells in an EV and more than 25 cells in a hybrid vehicle. These cells must be properly balanced to one another, while their temperature and the packs’ overall voltage and amperage must be closely monitored by the BMS.
      Often, when a battery has been properly tested and is found to be bad, a remanufactured battery may be the best option due to the price.
      Typically, remanufactured batteries include a number of improvements, such as nickel-plated terminals (to avoid corrosion); optimized cell mounting to eliminate the risk of case cracking due to vibrations; individual cell testing and balancing of the pack; and other comprehensive testing to ensure long life.
      For example, Dorman’s remanufactured hybrid battery pack for the 2004-2009 Toyota Prius features “nickel-plated bus bars and corrosion-resistant terminals for increased reliability,” according to the Dorman website, while “proprietary software uses [a] multi-dimensional grading process to select battery cells that will perform ideally together.” The battery packs are subjected to “multiple stringent validation gateways, including on-vehicle tests using EPA performance standards,” according to the company.
      Remanufactured batteries should be an attractive option for your customers – especially those who own hybrid vehicles, as they’re likely seeking a cost-effective solution. Dorman’s remanufactured hybrid battery packs come with a two-year warranty, according to a recent sales flyer, compared to the eight- to 10-year warranty for most OE batteries. Generally speaking, however, remanufactured batteries should have the same life expectancy as a new one.
      It’s important to note that when a remanufactured battery is sent to the warehouse, there’s an expiration tag applied to the outside of the shipping container. Make sure you’re not installing a battery that’s due to return to the manufacturer to receive an updated charge and testing procedure.
      A word about handling HV batteries, whether they’re new or remanufactured: These batteries are heavy! They’re packaged in clamshell cases to minimize the risk of electrical shock. Because of their weight, HV batteries should be stored low to the ground, and counter pros (and customers) should take great care when lifting them, to avoid injury.
      Let’s discuss a few add-on sales opportunities. I firmly believe that all shops working on electric vehicles need high-voltage gloves, insulated handtool sets and a Level 2 charger. Remember, all EVs use electrons the entire time they’re in a shop – as opposed to ICE vehicles, which only use gasoline when the engine is running.
      Advanced diagnostic tools represent another great sales opportunity. When it comes to diagnosing EVs and their batteries, the current level of diagnostics only allows a technician to see what’s transmitted over the data bus lines of communication. This is because a traditional diagnostic scan tool gets its information from the OBD II connector located under the dash. Autel has addressed this challenge with its MaxiSYS MS909EV platform.
      With the MaxiSys MS909EV system, technicians can analyze an EV battery by plugging into the OBD II port or connecting directly to the battery. By connecting to the BMS, technicians now have full insight into battery state of health and individual battery-cell state of charge; access to all the thermistors; and visibility into the “handshake” that occurs between a charger and the vehicle. The MS909EV screen displays detailed graphics and in-depth connection guidance to provide safe and secure testing, as well as comprehensive diagrams of high-voltage system blocks, components and sockets. In addition to providing rapid analysis of high-voltage systems in electric and hybrid vehicles, the MS909EV’s intelligent diagnostic capabilities extend to U.S., European and Asian gasoline and diesel vehicles.
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    • By Counterman
      As the automotive industry grapples with ongoing inventory shortages, consumers continue their shift to used vehicles.
      According to Experian’s “State of the Automotive Finance Market Report: Q2 2022,” 61.78% of all vehicle financing was for used vehicles, up from 58.48% in Q2 2021.
      The shift to used vehicles was present across all credit tiers, though near-prime saw the largest increase, going from 72.3% in Q2 2021 to 77.69% in Q2 2022.
      Subprime consumers saw the percentage of used-vehicle loans grow from 86.28% in Q2 2021 to 89.29% in Q2 2022, while prime consumers saw growth from 61.02% to 63.59% in the same time frame, according to Experian.
      “Between the inventory shortage and rising vehicle costs, consumers are looking to make the most cost-effective decision, which is often a used vehicle,” said Melinda Zabritski, Experian’s senior director of automotive financial solutions. “The benefit of higher vehicle values is that consumers are able to get more for their trade-ins, which can help offset the increased cost of their next vehicle.”
      The shift to used comes amid rising average vehicle-loan amounts and monthly payments for both new and used vehicles. The average new-vehicle loan amount increased 13.21% year-over-year to reach $40,290 in Q2 2022, with a monthly payment of $667 compared to $582 in Q2 2021. Average used-vehicle loan amounts saw a sharper increase of 18.66% year-over-year, clocking in at $28,534, with an average monthly payment of $515, an increase from $440 in Q2 2021.
      As consumers financed more used vehicles, credit unions experienced significant growth. Credit unions saw a jump in overall market share, reaching 25.81% in Q1 2022, up from 18.32% in Q1 2021, coming in second only to banks (27.94%) and surpassing captive lenders (22.64%), according to Experian.
      Credit unions achieved growth in both new- and used-vehicle financing, though the growth was more pronounced in the used-vehicle space.
      Though captives still led new-vehicle financing at 46.14% in Q2 2021, credit unions increased to 21.35%, up from 11.15% last year. For used-vehicle financing, credit unions comprised 28.62% in Q1 2022, up from 23.49% in Q1 2021. The growth places credit unions just behind banks, which held 29.19% of used-vehicle financing in Q1 2022.
      “With the market dynamics we’re seeing right now, the shift in lender market share makes sense, as credit unions often offer two things that consumers are seeking: lower interest rates and longer terms,” Zabritski continued. “This helps to manage their monthly payment, which is often what consumers prioritize when looking at financing options. Understanding these trends will ensure lenders and dealers can help consumers make the most informed decisions when purchasing a vehicle.”
      Additional findings for Q2 2022:
      Leasing decreased to 19.65% of new vehicles in Q2 2022, down from 27.82% in Q2 2021. The market continues to move more prime with prime (45.74%) and super prime (19.57%) comprising more than 63% of all originations in Q2 2022. SUVs surpassed 60% of total financing in Q2 2022 at 60.43%, up from 58.57% in Q2 2021. The average difference between a new-vehicle loan and lease payment was $127 in Q2 2022. The average loan term for new-vehicle loans remained flat going from 69.45 to 69.46 months from Q2 2021 to Q2 2022; average used-vehicle loan terms grew from 66.14 months to 68.01 months, year-over-year. To learn more, watch the entire
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    • By Counterman
      Arnold Motor Supply recently purchased Sioux City, Iowa-based Motor Parts Central and its sister company Northern Auto Parts.
      The purchase will allow the company to expand its inventory and distribution in the region.
      “The move from our old location in Sioux City to the Motor Parts Central building increases our retail and distribution space by 130,000 square feet,” says Eric Johnson, president and managing partner for Arnold Motor Supply. “The Sioux City location will now serve as a distribution hub for our surrounding parts stores.”
      Northern Auto Parts will continue to operate within the same building and is a different type of expansion for the company. Northern is a national online retailer, specializing in engine-rebuild kits and engine parts.
      “For years, we’ve provided engine rebuilding and restoration through our machine shops, so adding the expertise of the Northern Auto Parts team is a great addition for our customers,” Johnson said.  
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    • By Counterman
      PRT is expanding its portfolio of complete strut assemblies, as it announced first-to-market applications for the 2019 Honda CR-V.
      The Honda CR-V is one of best-selling vehicles in the United States. The complete strut assemblies apply to front right and front left positions, and fit the EX, EX-L, LX and Touring trim levels.
      The product launch represents an additional 380,000 vehicles in new coverage, according to the company.
      PRT is a brand of the ADD USA group, one of the largest exporters of complete strut assemblies in the world. PRT products are manufactured under the strictest OE quality processes required by the major automakers.
      “These first-to-market applications reinforce our commitment in bringing innovative solutions to all our clients,” said Bruno Bello, director of global category and marketing at PRT. “As an OEM supplier, we are continually investing in research and development of brand-new products for both the OE market and aftermarket.”
      For more information about PRT products, call 770-238-1611 or visit
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    • DIY like a pro! Shop from over 1,000,000 Repair Manuals at eManualOnline.com! As low as $14.99 per manual. Shop now.


      DIY like a pro! Shop from over 1,000,000 Repair Manuals at eManualOnline.com! As low as $14.99 per manual. Shop now.


      DIY like a pro! Shop from over 1,000,000 Repair Manuals at eManualOnline.com! As low as $14.99 per manual. Shop now.

    • By Counterman
      Electric vehicles, specifically those that are 100% battery powered (BEVs) have everyone “amped up” and anxious to get the most “current” projections on sales, share of the car parc and long-term impact on the aftermarket parts and service business. The impact of BEVs will be felt slowly over a very long time. But the time to get educated and prepared is now.
      Beginning with the joint industry report at AAPEX from the Auto Care Association and AASA and continuing with presentations at the AASA Technology Council and Vision conference this spring, forecasts about BEV sales and their trajectory of market share have fascinated and frightened those who grew up with and depend upon the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) for their livelihood. The consensus I heard is that the demise of the internal combustion engine has been exaggerated and the growth forecasts of BEV market share are optimistic considering the limits of current battery technology, tepid consumer demand resulting from the high cost, and shortcomings in charging infrastructure and the electric grid.
      There is no secret that CO2 emissions are responsible for changing the chemistry of our atmosphere and warming the planet, and vehicle tailpipe emissions are a major contributor to the problem. So, every alternative form of vehicle propulsion has been thoroughly explored in the last decade and Lithium-Ion batteries are the leading technology for the time being. Tailpipe emissions from the vehicle are eliminated, there’s instant and plentiful torque and the new models are even starting to look cool.
      But, BEV adoption has lagged below the projections of futurists and will continue to face a number of challenges and headwinds. To put this in perspective, BEVs in the U.S. account for barely 1% of the fleet in 2021. That market share will double to 2% in 2025. By the end of this decade, BEVs will account for 6% of the domestic parc — and the vast majority of those will still be under factory warranty. It won’t be until 2035 that the BEV share rises to double digits. These numbers are from the joint industry report issued at AAPEX and represent the Base Adoption scenario. The numbers could be lower if development and investment lag, or they could be higher under the rosiest of assumptions.
      A few inconvenient truths about battery-powered vehicles have jumped out at me from my research:
      1) Consumers have expressed reluctance to invest in a BEV unless their range-anxiety is satisfactorily addressed, and they can confidently head out on a road trip without the need to plan their itinerary around rest stops at the charging station. Derek Kaufman from Schwartz Advisors told the AASA Vision Conference audience that the government has a goal of investing $5 billion on an additional 500,000 charging stations. That’s great, but the need is for 4X that number. Until the number of charging stations is dramatically increased, depending on a BEV will require changes to driving and consumer behavior.
      2) Current battery technology can be charged with standard household current. But, it takes all night, and the full range potential is not achieved. Fast-charging DC stations typically cost 3 to 4 times as much per KWh limiting their use unless absolutely necessary. Brian Daugherty, chief technology officer at MEMA, explained that a typical home consumes 1.2 kilowatts (KW) per hour on average. A direct current (DC) fast charger on the side of the interstate uses 300 KW or the equivalent demand on the grid of 250 homes. Imagine your favorite rest stop equipped with a couple dozen charging stations on Memorial Day weekend with everyone plugged in for a fast charge to get them to the beach. The entire East Coast will go dim.
      3) Just as concerning as the infrastructure is the source of the minerals that go into modern batteries. China controls 70-80% of the lithium, cobalt, manganese, nickel and graphite use in electrodes and Russia produces more than 20% of battery-grade nickel. Half of the cobalt is supplied from the Republic of the Congo, with a dismal record of child-labor abuses. But, battery technology is rapidly advancing and professor and inventor John Goodenough, who is credited with inventing the current state-of-the-science Lithium-Ion battery, recently co-developed a rapid-charging, high-cycle, non-flammable glass battery. Years of testing and development are needed to prove the viability of this tech in automotive applications. But, apparently, the 2019 Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry did not think Lithium-Ion battery technology was … Good Enough.
      4) Finally, it is worth remembering that switching from a gasoline ICE to a BEV that plugs into the electric grid is simply a trade off from tailpipe emissions to smokestack emissions until we have a much higher portion of our electricity supplied from renewable sources (solar, hydro and wind). Even in our current position, battery electric cars generate only 50% of the emissions of a comparable gasoline vehicle, even when battery manufacturing is included in the calculation, according to Cultura.org.
      With all that said, battery electric vehicles are here to stay, and their share of the market will slowly increase. Costs will come down, range and performance will go up, and the investment of the OEMs and the government will ensure that electrics command a significant share of our transportation system in the future. Internal combustion engines are not facing extinction and will remain relevant to hybrid vehicles, heavy equipment and large SUVs and trucks for many decades. As Kaufman explained, electrics will be the preferred solution for small package delivery fleets, autonomous urban vehicles and fleet-shared transportation solutions. The best thing for an aftermarket parts or service business with an eye on the long game is to take your local Avis, Uber or Waymo executive out to lunch and talk about their need to eliminate underperformed maintenance and deliver 100% up-time with a reliable supply of aftermarket parts.
      The aftermarket should do what we’ve always done when faced with something new and uncertain, adapt and pay attention. Change is coming faster than ever, but we are Essential — regardless of the propulsion technology.
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