- ACES is Application-level data: make/model/year fitment. One part number can have multiple fitments or applications, while universal parts have no fitments.
- PIES is Part-level data: price, description, dimensions and other attributes.
The automotive aftermarket has focused a lot on ACES and PIES product data standards in the past few years, so have you ever wondered how many total part numbers are in the automotive aftermarket? (Scroll down for ACES and PIES defined.)
Note: for more information on PIES data read this more recent article.
In the entire automotive aftermarket, including specialty auto parts and accessories, as well as branded replacement parts or private label replacement parts, there are approximately 6 to 7.5 million base part numbers. What’s a “base” part number? A part number that doesn’t explode to thousands of additional SKUs via different colors or shapes. An example would be automotive carpeting, where one part may come in black, gray, blue, etc.
This 6 to 7.5 million number includes what you might think of as the “SEMA market” as well as the “Auto Care Association (formerly AAIA) market.” Filter the 6 to 7.5 million part numbers down to just the specialty parts and accessories aftermarket and it drops to between 2 and 3 million part numbers, although there will always be some ambiguous gray area separating a “specialty part” from a “replacement part.” For example, when does a spark plug cross over from an OEM replacement to a performance product? It can also be ambiguous when an OEM Tier 1 supplier sells the same OEM part to the aftermarket under the manufacturer’s brand instead of the OEM brand. Lots of gray…
About 50% of those 2 to 3 million parts fit one or more specific year, make or model vehicle application and in some cases they fit a specific submodel, engine or transmission. The other 50% are universal-fit parts for nearly anything like valve stem caps, or parts that fit nothing like tools or wax.
Year/Make/Model ACES product data
Ever wonder how many different combinations of year/make/model vehicles there are? For that answer we turn to the industry’s two main sources of application fitment data: the trade association Auto Care Association (formerly AAIA) of Bethesda, Maryland and Direct Communications, Inc. (DCi) of Des Moines, Iowa.
The Auto Care Association’s vehicle table, referred to as VCdb for “Vehicle Configuration Database,” is a fully normalized database containing about 60,000 specific combinations of year/make/model cars and trucks including attributes and configurations that go back to 1896. The Parts Configuration database (PCdb) is also included in the ACES standard, and defines a standard list of part types and categories, such as “spark plug” for example.
DCi manages a few more vehicles for the specialty parts industry at about 72,000, including vehicles back to 1917 but also includes motorcycles and ATVs. In general, an application-specific part will fit an average of almost 60 different year/make/submodel combinations.
As a general rule, parts for cars have fewer fitments and parts for trucks have more fitments. This is because many truck models were basically unchanged for many years, while cars had more frequent model changes. Truck model redesigns happen more frequently today than they did a decade or two ago.
The specialty auto parts industry’s single-biggest source of product data: DCi, managing just over 2 million part numbers. Other sources of product data include Illumaware, Digital Performance, RPM Data Services, Vertical Development and the newly-formed SEMA Data Coop as well as many others.
ACES and PIES product data explained
ACES and PIES are aftermarket industry standard data formats for managing and exchanging automotive catalog applications data. Aftermarket manufacturers can send and receive parts data using industry standard vehicle applications (such as year, make, model), part types and qualifier statements.
ACES (Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard) is an XML file format and is used to manage and exchange automotive application (fitment) data. PIES (Product Information Exchange Standard) is used to manage and exchange product (part number) data. Product information in PIES files is categorized into over 20,000 product types that are organized into 25 categories.
And if you ever get confused with the PIES and ACES data standards, here’s a mental short cut DCi showed us: A PIES file—begins with “P“—is a list of Part numbers and Prices, like a typical jobber price sheet. An ACES file—begins with “A“—is a list of Applications, like a manufacturer’s application guide showing what fits different years/makes/models. Those shortcuts of course, have nothing to do with the real meanings, which are Product Information Exchange Standard (PIES) and Aftermarket Catalog Enhanced Standard (ACES).
For more information: AutomotiveAftermarket.org.