Aftermarket sets are increasing. Contents are customized to target specific markets.

China suppliers of automotive tools are expanding selections and diversifying tool combinations to boost competitiveness. Riding on a strong global automotive industry, many are preparing for a surge in demand both locally and overseas, with some pitching in-house brands more strongly to establish a foothold. The growing number of private-car owners is fueling the DIY line, while continued advancements in vehicle technologies increase the need for specialized instruments for maintenance and repair work.

Makers are concentrating on the aftermarket, which is seen as having better growth opportunities and bigger returns than 4S and car repair shops. The high cost of producing instruments for the latter applications remains inhibitive for many companies. At present, it is mostly the large and established enterprises that serve both the aftermarket and OE sectors.

Much of the design work revolves around portable kits, particularly the selection of implements to be included, function upgrades and case design. Under the first objective, most makers are customizing the quantity and types of devices to the target geographical market. For instance, first aid kits are normally thrown in for models sent to North America. Those bound for Europe typically come with warning triangles and safety vests. Fire extinguishers or similar gear is considered indispensable in Africa and the Middle East.

The contents of car emergency kits vary from two to more than 50 pieces. A basic collection has about 10 items, and may constitute a warning triangle, booster cable, tow rope and fire extinguisher. Wrenches, an air compressor, a utility knife, a flashlight, a PVC tape, a raincoat and a pair of gloves are sometimes incorporated as well. Several sets boast combination tools, while others are intended for specific applications.

Ningbo Yinzhou Eternal Star International Industry Co. Ltd, for example, rolls out an assortment of roadside emergency supplies stored in a plastic case. These comprise an early warning device, a reflective vest, a UL- and TUV-compliant fire safety blanket, a SASO-certified fire extinguisher and a smoke alarm.

Henwei Industrial Co. Ltd’s comprehensive repair and first-aid kits bundle more than 50 different items, each package weighing about 2.2kg. Dongguan Acton Mechanical & Electrical Equipment Co. Ltd offers a 26-piece wrench set, including spanners with a head grip of 6 to 32mm.

To add value, companies are enhancing the devices included in kits. For example, gloves that used to be made in 100 percent cotton are now coated with latex on the palm side. This improves insulation and grip, and repels moisture better.

Unlike previous releases that have an effective reflection at about 200m, the latest warning triangles feature better illumination and can be seen as far as 500m. This is made possible by electroforming polymethyl methacrylate, a shatter-resistant alternative to glass, with a mold core from Japan.

Bolstering competitiveness further, most enterprises are keeping prices stable. Any upward adjustments in the months ahead will be primarily due to the appreciation of the yuan. Some raised quotes recently in response to increases in raw material costs and wages. For more on Portable tool kits dominate selections.