NAPA Pays Attention as It Sells America Brakes

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The ever-changing automotive market, especially the rapid move toward its electrification in the American market, provided some of the impetus for auto-parts juggernaut NAPA to add Brembo brake products to its vast inventory and further enhance what the company’s leading brake executive believes is a very significant part of the overall business.

Cristina Perez, NAPA’s director of category management responsible for brakes and undercar, recalled how she made the decision to bring the Italian brand’s products to the customers of the more than 6,000 NAPA Auto Parts stores and 16,000 NAPA Auto Care centers.

“The initial excitement with adding Brembo was specifically around their EV brake kit, for which Napa is the exclusive channel of distribution in the aftermarket,” explained the retail executive. “Brembo came to us with this EV kit. We wanted to handle it exclusively; we wanted to be first to market because we really want to be the first space folks think of when it comes to EVs.”

“I don’t think at any other time in this [automotive] industry have we seen such a a bigger shift to than we are seeing to EVs. We know that it’s going to take time for the shift to be complete, but there’s so much happening now and it’s so dynamic.”

In 1925, a group of independent auto parts sellers met in Detroit to form the National Automotive Parts Association. NAPA stores and warehouses, which were owned by a variety of member companies at the time, quickly became the go-to sources for parts. Carlyle Fraser, founder of Genuine Parts Company, served as a key NAPA contributor in its early years.

NAPA Pays Attention as It Sells America Brakes

Across the decades, Genuine Parts began to acquire the other NAPA member companies, and in 2012 completed the acquisition process, thus establishing a unified NAPA under the Genuine Parts umbrella.

Electrification will provide NAPA with growth opportunities, including the brake business. Despite many general-media reports on American consumers shunning EVs, electrified vehicles took 7.6% of the market in 2023, up from 5.9% in 2022 and is expected to reach 12% in 2024 and 18% in 2025.

Market share will continue to grow as increased and improved cars, SUVs and trucks spark competition which will help stabilize pricing, and charging issues are either solved or mitigated.

“From our partners at MEMA, we know that the parts market will continue to grow, especially as the complexity and cost of replacement components increases,” she said. “By 2045, electrification components will drive the bulk of growth in the aftermarket ~74% of the product contribution share.”

Perez said the company keeps watching the overall industry and evolving to meet where it is going.

“That is why NAPA launched NexDrive, a program creating a network of repair shops that specialize in servicing electric vehicles. When conceptualizing NexDrive, we identified four key pillars from the original model which began in Europe:

“1. Awareness and helping workshops understand new and emerging technologies.
“2. Training technicians on vehicles and how regulations and nuances differ from the original program model, ensuring we have the products to service these vehicles.
“3. Partnering with our global partners on the supplier side that.
“4. Training store sales teams on the new and emerging products.”

The electric-vehicle business might provide excitement and growth for NAPA, but the traditional friction-brake business provides the Atlanta-based firm with a firm basis for its other repair and replacement businesses, according to Perez.

This entire article can be found in the April 2024 issue of BrakeLine magazine. Subscribe HERE to get your free copy.

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The Brake Report
The Brake Report

The BRAKE Report is an online media platform dedicated to the automotive and commercial vehicle brake segments. Our mission is to provide the global brake community with the latest news & headlines from around the industry.