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The trucking industry is facing several headwinds in 2023, including volatile diesel prices, weakening freight demand, and uncertain economic conditions. Still, the commercial vehicle service and maintenance industry reports a positive outlook for shop activities, repair volume, revenue, and service demand.

The Unpacking the Commercial Vehicle Diagnostic Market 2023 report from Noregon found that an aging vehicle population, new technology, and increasing connectivity are creating new opportunities for shops.

Here are four key takeaways from the report:

The truck fleet is aging

While Class 8 truck production should remain strong through most of 2023 due to a pent-up demand cycle, the impact of an economic slowdown and high interest rates is expected to result in decreased demand for new trucks from mid to late 2023 onwards. Service and maintenance activities and average commercial vehicle age typically increase in recessionary phases as fleets delay the purchase of new trucks, increase the duration of trade cycles of fleet vehicles, and demand higher levels of utilization and uptime from vehicles. As a result, a considerable portion of respondents reported a positive or very positive outlook for their shop in 2023.

OEMs are relying on more technology

Model year 2022 commercial vehicles and trailers featured more distributed electronics than nearly any truck ever made. In a typical Class 8 truck, these electronic systems, along with mechanical components, systems, and modules, feature several hundred sensors, complicating service and maintenance processes. The technology generates a tremendous volume of data, which, if interpreted and analyzed effectively, can significantly enhance the ability of technicians and shops to expedite and accurately diagnose faults and offer comprehensive troubleshooting.

Demand for diagnostic tools is increasing

Maintenance managers and technicians will be under tremendous pressure to reduce vehicle downtime and dwell time in shops. Another Noregon voice of the customer survey found that when a fleet encounters an unscheduled maintenance event, the median dwell time in shops is about two days. Over half of surveyed fleets reported at least two or more unscheduled maintenance events per month. In 2023, dwell time in shops and technician shortage will remain major challenges for shops, leading towards greater reliance on advanced in-shop and remote diagnostic tools to drive efficiency and productivity. More than one in three respondents said they will increase the number of electronic diagnostic tools in their shops.

Remote diagnostic solutions and telematics providers are working together

There has been a rising penetration of remote diagnostic solutions as a layer of value on top of telematics offerings, and 2023 will see a much higher level of partnerships. Increased market demand for solutions that enable fleet and maintenance managers to access a fleet vehicle’s health and well-being remotely and gain actionable, mission-critical insights is driving the collaboration. The year is also expected to bring heightened activities by aggregators of vehicle health data to develop descriptive and prescriptive insights for fleets and maintenance/service providers. The information can enable diagnostic solution providers to provide customer-centric offerings that manifest as diagnostic tools, products and services, and solutions to operating challenges and dwell-time and downtime reduction needs.

Looking ahead

Although the commercial vehicle service and maintenance industry’s outlook is optimistic, the coming year is expected to be one of volatility and uncertainty and the potential for headwinds exists, including the technician shortage, rising complexity of vehicle service, and supply chain constraints. According to the report, the challenges underscore the need for rapid digitization and automation of their businesses. As the adoption and utilization of electronic diagnostic tools gain momentum in 2023, the tools that offer the broadest coverage of vehicle models will gain the most traction.