Meritor Automotive, Troy, MI, will launch an Internet parts exchange for the U.S. commercial medium- and heavy-duty truck aftermarket.
The service, called Fleetworks.com, will function as an open electronic marketplace for commercial truck aftermarket parts and services. Fleetworks.com will be an independent business entity with its own board of directors and will likely lead to an initial public stock offering, according to Meritor. Meritor’s Heavy Vehicle Systems supplies drivetrain systems and components for medium- and heavy-duty trucks and trailers.
Fleetworks.com will be open to all industry participants and will allow buyers and sellers to reach parts and service providers at the click of a mouse. OEMs, truck dealers, parts distributors and service providers will be able to use a common site to reach existing and new customers simply and quickly. Fleetworks.com will make money by charging a transaction fee of up to 5 percent to sellers and perhaps through services such as advertising.
Initially, the service will apply only to the U.S.; however, plans call for Canada and Mexico to be added followed by an expansion to Europe and the rest of the world. Meritor estimates Fleetworks.com might ultimately handle up to $30 billion in revenues.
In a Tuesday press conference many questions centered on the tendency of Internet markets to eliminate middlemen from supply chains in a process often called “disintermediation.” President Susan P. Kampe, newly appointed CEO of Fleetworks.com, denied that was a Fleetworks.com goal.
“Only customers can do that,” she said. “We want to facilitate the current market.” Kampe had been senior vice president and chief information officer for Meritor.
Prakash Mulchandani, president of Meritor's Heavy Vehicle Systems business noted that Fleetworks.com would not, for example, connect parts manufacturers directly with fleets. Instead, the exchange would link traditional middlemen such as warehouse distributors and dealers with fleets and other parts users.
According to Meritor, Fleetworks.com will help integrate fleets with suppliers much the way Internet load sites, mobile communications and EDI integrate fleet with shipper systems. Meritor estimates manufacturing costs of most aftermarket parts represent only 58 percent of the current end user cost and that the Fleetworks.com exchange will profit by reducing the spread.
Kampe said the idea had been well received in the aftermarket industry among both buyers and sellers and that a number of companies will take part in the exchange. However, she declined to provide specific names.
Besides Meritor, Fleetworks.com backers include Accel Partners, a California venture capital firm and Gen3 Partners, a technology company based in Boston. Meritor chairman Larry Yost, said his company wanted partners knowledgeable in Internet business technology.
Fleetworks.com will be headquartered in Boston, MA. Kampe said a web site at www.fleetworks.com is now up but won’t be operative until next month. Fleetworks.com’s pilot launch is scheduled for June and it is expected to be up and running for business by late summer.