James McGonagle is head of aftermarket sales North America for Continental Commercial Vehicles & Aftermarket (CVAM). He joined Continental in 2012 as aftermarket sales director. In his current role, he is responsible for driving continuous and profitable sales growth, managing the sales team and outside sales reps throughout North America, covering sales strategy, negotiations and all sales functions.
McGonagle has more than 30 years of experience in the aftermarket, having spent 10 years as business development manager for ZF Services North America, before joining Continental. Prior to ZF Services, McGonagle served Brembo Racing as its NASCAR and sportscar technical sales manager, and also served Sachs North America as manager of product development and Dorman Products as product line manager. James McGonagle holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Widener University.
In today’s Q&A profile, McGonagle talks about a new hybrid battery cooling program, trends influencing Continental’s aftermarket products today, and also the return of the ATE brand in North America.
AMN: What trends today have influenced Continental as it created new aftermarket products?
JM: There are several key market elements to the products that Continental offers. One trend is the advancing technology found in many of the products on today’s vehicles and those being developed for future model years. As one of the largest automotive suppliers in the world, Continental is uniquely positioned to lead the market with new technologies at the OEM level and coordinate bringing those products into the aftermarket portfolio. Continental works directly with vehicle manufacturers in the development of some significantly complex systems, such as the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) collision avoidance systems found on an increasing number of vehicles on the road today. Continental also is a leading developer of autonomous driving vehicle technology.
Directly impacting today’s aftermarket is the trend toward OEM product offerings. Over the past several years, there has been an increasing demand from the professional technicians for original equipment products. As the complexity of vehicle systems and products becomes more complex, the desire to have the quality, reliability and advanced technology of the OEM parts has never been more important to the service community. Making certain the job is done right the first time and making sure the vehicle is serviced to the OEM specifications, is increasingly important for the safety and longevity of today’s vehicles.
AMN: Can you bring AMN readers up to speed on the expansion of the VDO OEM Direct Parts program? What does this entail?
JM: Continental’s OEM Direct Parts (OEMDP) was launched about two years ago in direct response to the market demand for OEM parts. Quality and direct fit is at the top of the list for today’s professional technician product choices, and Continental delivers the genuine OEM parts produced by Continental for vehicle manufacturers. These parts are available to the automotive aftermarket and service shops from Continental’s OEM Direct Parts program.
This year, the OEMDP original offering of fuel modules, electronic throttle bodies, fuel injectors, mass airflow sensors, flex fuel senders and water pumps has been expanded to now include door lock actuators, windshield washer pumps, ATE wheel speed sensors and ATE original equipment brake pads. Continental’s OEM Direct Program now offers 500 SKUs of original equipment parts manufactured by Continental.
AMN: Continental recently brought the ATE brand back to the North American aftermarket. How do you feel the brand’s strong reputation in Europe will influence the North American market?
JM: Continental has brought a selection of ATE brake pads into a stocking program here in our Allentown, Pennsylvania, distribution center. The unique characteristic of this selection of pads is that they are all the exact original equipment pads, all the way down to the friction formulations. As one the world’s largest providers of OEM braking systems, ATE’s powerful reputation in Europe lends itself nicely with the increasing vehicle population of European makes here in the States. With the VOR of European vehicles approaching 10 percent of the car parc, the ATE offering of pads provides an OEM alternative for those vehicles, as well as the domestic vehicles covered in this program. Vehicle owners and the professional technicians can now choose the ATE pads their braking systems were engineered to use, helping to bring braking performance back to original specifications.
AMN: Continental also is introducing a new hybrid battery cooling program. The projections for hybrids vary widely, what is your expectation for this market? Do you anticipate investing further in products for this segment?
JM: This is a new product segment for the aftermarket, and we are excited about the response we have received from our customers. You are correct in the varied projections of the future of hybrids, however there are more than 4 million vehicles on the road today that need to be serviced, and Continental wants to provide the owners and installers the ability to maximize the life of their vehicle by providing OEM-quality battery cooling motors. More than 95 percent of hybrid vehicles rely on air-cooling systems for their battery cells. Having those systems in proper working order is essential to the service life of the battery, as well as the drivability of the vehicle. Continental’s VDO Hybrid Battery Cooling Fans restore original cooling performance, increasing the battery efficiency and improving mileage. These fans are exact replacements for the original fans, so our customers can be assured of OE fit and function along with identical mounting and electrical connections for trouble-free plug and play service. At Continental we will continue to research and utilize our OEM knowledge base to expand our existing product portfolio and provide the aftermarket products that benefit the service life of today’s ever-increasing vehicle community.
AMN: Continental has a lot of exciting new introductions and expansions in the works. How are you getting the word out to customers?
JM: We work directly with our customers to launch these new aftermarket programs and give them the tools they need to help sell the products to professional technicians and consumers. In addition to ongoing support for our entire product portfolio, we launch these new products with powerful, multi-faceted advertising, public relations and sales promotion campaigns designed to keep the market aware of our strong brand presence and exceptional reputation for delivering quality products that perform to original equipment specifications.
We also look forward to showcasing these new programs and our complete product offering at this year’s 2018 AAPEX and SEMA Shows in Las Vegas.