AKRON (Aug. 1, 2005) — Selling tire pressure monitoring systems to the aftermarket is an essentially untapped niche market for tire retailers—but it's an opportunity for a limited time only.
While federal regulations soon will require TPMS in all new passenger vehicles, there are numerous older vehicles on the roads without low-inflation warning systems.
“You don't find many people selling TPMS in retail yet,” noted Scott Blair, technical trainer for AutoWare Technologies L.L.C.
“There's a lot of cross-marketing potential. Tire dealers have to realize they have a retail store. That fact just escapes them,” he said. “They need to think about all the different types of things they can sell” in addition to tires and tire service.
In his job as an on-site trainer at various tire dealerships, Mr. Blair has discussed with dealers about the idea of selling aftermarket TPMS in their stores. He said they usually haven't thought about the idea “until I mention it to them and then it's like a light bulb goes off in their head.”
It's a niche market that has a short lifespan, according to Carl Wacker, vice president of sales and marketing worldwide for Schrader Electronics Ltd., an OE manufacturer of direct TPMS. “If you attack the potential market now, you only have three or four years before the volume drops off and disappears,” he said.
That's because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will require all new passenger vehicles to be equipped with TPMS by September 2007. Currently, used cars on the road are, on average, about 4 years old.
“So in about 10 years' time, there will not be many cars without (TPMS),” Mr. Wacker said. “I'm not saying it's not a good market to get into, but it's limited in time.”
Schrader tried aftermarket sales of TPMS in the past, Mr. Wacker said, but “with limited success,” adding, “We've heard requests (from consumers), but we've not seen a true demand for aftermarket (TPMS).”
SmarTire Systems Inc., which offers a color-coded banded system for OE and aftermarket, is actually shifting its focus to non-passenger vehicles, such as motorcycles and RVs, because aftermarket passenger car TPMS is not a big business, according to SmarTire's marketing coordinator, Richard Whitehead.
Advantage PressurePro of Harrisonville, Mo., makes an aftermarket TPMS with a sensor that screws on the valve stem. The company sells its product through distributors that in turn sell to RV dealerships, tire retailers, trucking companies and roving dealers.
President Phillip Zaroor said the system is easy to install, and a retailer can make a 30-percent profit margin off sales of the units. Currently, his biggest customers are in the RV market.