Transportation & Logistics Industry Update

Harris Williams Deal Spotlight

screen_shot_2021-02-09_at_3.01.03_pm.pngContinental Batteries

Harris Williams advised Continental Batteries, a portfolio company of Incline Equity Partners, on its sale to H.I.G. Capital. Continental is a leading distributor of aftermarket batteries to the electric utility vehicle, automotive, commercial, marine, and industrial markets.

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What We’re Reading

Leveraging Big Data: More from Driven Brands, Kroll Financial Docs

A Driven Brands prospectus preceding its January IPO and a Kroll Bond Rating Agency new issue report last month offered collision repairers a look at the activities of one of the collision industry’s biggest names. The prospectus observed how the company is using its proprietary data algorithms to collect more than 40 million data elements each month to be used in marketing, measuring location performance, enhancing store-level operations, and optimizing real estate site selection across its franchise brands. The company cites this deep database as a way to identify prospective acquisition targets and create a pipeline for future development.

Commercial Vehicle Remote Diagnostics Market to Grow by $2.17B

The commercial vehicle remote diagnostics market is poised to grow by $2.17 billion during 2020-2024, progressing at a compound annual growth rate of almost 17% during the forecast period. Increased adoption of commercial vehicle telematics as fleet operators seek to drive down costs will fuel this double-digit growth. Vendors are likely to focus on grabbing business opportunities from the light commercial vehicle (LCV) segment in North America, as LCV makes up the largest market share and North America is poised to contribute 47% of the market growth. Major players in the market include Continental AG, Eaton Corporation, Robert Bosch GmbH, Trimble, and ZF Friedrichshafen.

Electric Mobility After the Crisis

While electric vehicle (EV) market share is expected to grow faster than pre-crisis expectations in Europe and China over the next two years, the U.S. EV market looks markedly different. EV sales in the U.S. had been slowing before the COVID-19 crisis, with annual growth decreasing from 80% in 2018 to 20% in 2019. Combining that with the past year’s slowing economy, subsequent decrease in consumer spending, and bottomed-out oil prices, internal combustion engine vehicles remain the American consumer’s vehicle of choice. In response to these trends, a number of U.S.-based OEMs have delayed the start of production on new EV models, and the projected 2022 EV market share will likely be 3% to 6% below pre-crisis expectations.

What’s Next for the Automotive Industry in 2021?

2021 will see a continuation of trends that have been bubbling even before COVID-19. The automakers that capitalize on these trends will be the standouts in the year and decade ahead. As consumer buying behavior continues to shift online, companies will need to offer seamless online shopping experiences, with bonus points available for companies that are able to concurrently build a platform to collect and act on this online consumer data. Beyond the shopping experience, consumers are also expecting technology enhancements in the cars themselves, with 39% of all people surveyed desiring at least one connected feature in their next vehicle. In addition to technology enhancements, companies will also need to decrease the complexity of their business and increase profitability by shedding unprofitable derivatives, minimizing “nice-to-have” projects, and increasing the speed of change.

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Harris Williams is a leading advisor to the transportation and logistics M&A market. Our Transportation & Logistics Group serves companies in a broad range of attractive niches, including third-party logistics (3PL), truck, rail, marine and air transportation, transportation equipment, and the automotive and heavy duty vehicle market.

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