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It could be argued that there has been little to report from the auto accessories category for some time.
In fact, the word from some players in the industry has been that, apart from the regular polishes, paints and oils, the world of auto accessories is shrinking.
With modern cars increasingly coming with high-quality accessories and options already installed, the easy sales of the past – fluffy seat covers, floor mats and cup holders – are a much harder sell these days.
To get an idea of what auto accessories are still doing well in 2016 we spoke to a specialist in the area. A clearly very busy Supercheap Auto manager did take some time out to share with us some surprising insights into the products that are doing well.
He started with surveillance – also known as dashcams – as The Big New Category of the last 12 months: “Sales of surveillance products have been getting far more common. And they have g-sensors in them so, if you are crashed into, they will turn on. I guess a lot of people are increasingly worried about the dishonesty of others...”
Despite their inclusion in many new cars, reversing cameras have also been doing well for this Supercheap store which reports enquiries from people who’ve got hooked on the convenience of the feature once they see it in action either in a friend’s car or even a rental.
Another surprise for this retailer in recent months has been the increasing number of enquiries around car navigation, a category that has been squeezed pretty tight with the increasing ubiquity of GPS-enabled smartphones.
“I don’t know why really but navigation does seem to be making a comeback. We don’t even have any in-store but we get asked about it all the time,” he says ruefully.
Another recent focus for our Supercheap store is its paint mixing business which, our source reveals, is seen by the company as one useful way to future proof for the most significant event in the automotive industry, the shift from gas powered cars to electric.
“We are monitoring the industry and are looking a decade ahead because this [electric] is definitely coming”
While understandably reluctant to give away any more details than that, our source says that the word from Supercheap head office across the ditch is that the chain is planning to stay relevant when the change comes.
“There are definitely plans in place and we are monitoring the industry and are looking a decade ahead because this [electric] is definitely coming.”
And if you have any doubts about the veracity of this, it was agreed how the signage for electric vehicle charging stations will look in June this year.
The signage was developed by the Christchurch City Council with approval from the NZ Transport Agency following on the Government’s Electric Vehicle Programme announced in May.
The target of the Government’s programme is to double the number of electric vehicles on New Zealand roads each year to reach 64,000 by 2021.
The latest initiative of the program is the Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund that will offer “up to 50 per cent funding towards projects that will demonstrate and showcase low emission vehicle technologies in high-profile, visible ways that will help to popularise these technologies, and to fund projects that can be implemented relatively quickly.”
Time to gear up for the electric revolution perhaps?