Autotech Recruit joins IAAF

The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) has welcomed automotive recruitment specialist Autotech Recruit to its membership.

Autotech Recruit offers a bespoke, professional service in supplying technical staff to the motor industry. From MOT testers and vehicle technicians to bodyshop personnel, Autotech Recruit provides thoroughly vetted, fully-qualified staff on both temporary and permanent contracts, for national retail groups, independent garages, bodyshops, and even government organisations.

As a member, Autotech Recruit will access a range of IAAF benefits such as: Merchandise and promotional workwear, lifestyle protection plans, alternative dispute resolution cover, and fleet management solutions, as well as all the latest industry information and networking opportunities.

Autotech Recruit managing director, Gavin White, said: “Autotech Recruit prides itself on strong relations with the automotive aftermarket that we exist to serve. We see membership of IAAF as beneficial to helping us further our offering to the independent sector.”

The automotive technical recruitment specialist will have access to the many IAAF networking meetings; it will be able to build relations within the automotive aftermarket to complement their industry insights and privileges.

Wendy Williamson, IAAF chief executive, said: “We are delighted to welcome Autotech Recruit to the Federation and will assist them with their continued support of IAAF member businesses.”

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VW executives charged in USA and group litigation order announced in UK

US Federal prosecutors have announced criminal charges against six Volkswagen executives for their roles in the company’s emissions-cheating scandal.

The six include a former head of development of the Volkswagen brand and the head of engine development. One of those charged, Oliver Schmidt, was arrested in Florida last week; the other five are believed to be in Germany.

VW also formally pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to violate the Clean Air Act, customs violations and obstruction of justice. Many of the 600,000 cars in the United States equipped with emissions-cheating software were imported from Germany or Mexico.

The carmaker is set to pay $4.3 billion in criminal and civil penalties in connection with the federal investigation, bringing the total cost of the deception to Volkswagen in the United States, including settlements of suits by car owners, to $20 billion — one of the costliest corporate scandals in history.

“Volkswagen knew of these problems,” Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said at a news conference in Washington. “When regulators expressed concerns, Volkswagen obfuscated,” she said. “And they ultimately lied.”

The VW employees charged were Heinz-Jakob Neusser, 56, who oversaw development of the company’s brand; Jens Hadler, 50, who oversaw engine development; Richard Dorenkamp, 68, another supervisor of engine development; Bernd Gottweis, 69, who helped oversee quality management; and Jürgen Peter, 59, who was a liaison between regulatory agencies and the carmaker. They and Mr. Schmidt were charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, defraud customers and violate the Clean Air Act.

It is unclear whether the five executives named will ever appear in a United States court. If they are in Germany, the country does not normally extradite its citizens. Even if Germany does not extradite or prosecute them, the charges in the United States would severely limit their ability to travel.

None of the executives charged were members of the VW management board, although several of them reported directly to the board. The lack of accusations against any top managers could help insulate Volkswagen from lawsuits by shareholders who have accused the company of failing to disclose the risks it faced.

Several of those charged played management roles in the development of the diesel engines that were equipped with so-called defeat devices, others have been accused of concocting excuses for the excess emissions and trying to prevent regulators from discovering the truth. VW also admitted that its employees destroyed emails and other evidence in 2015 as it became clear that regulators would soon learn of the illegal software.

Volkswagen’s board has approved the company’s agreement with the US government. It still needs the approval of Judge Sean F. Cox of Federal District Court in Detroit. As part of the settlement, the company will be under probation for three years and will be subject to the oversight of an independent monitor. VW must also co-operate with investigations into current and former employees.

Meanwhile, in the UK, the BBC has reported on a legal firm who is aware of 10,000 VW owners who have expressed an interest in suing VW. They estimated that owners could get “several thousand” pounds in compensation. One firm, Harcus Sinclair, is applying for a group litigation order – which is similar to a US class action lawsuit – in the High Court later this month. The legal action is aimed at securing compensation for people who own or have previously owned one of the vehicles.

In the UK around 1.2 million diesel engine cars are potentially affected by the emissions scandal.

Harcus Sinclair said it was basing its estimate of the level of compensation owners could get on the €5,000 (£4,300) per owner awarded in Spain and the $8-10,000 awarded in the US.

“The key allegation is that the affected cars should not have been certified as fit for sale because it is alleged that they produced higher levels of nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions than the rules allowed,” it said in a statement.

Seventy-seven current or former VW owners have put their names to Harcus Sinclair’s application for a group litigation order which will be heard in the High Court on 30 January.

The firm hopes that the marketing and publicity surrounding this launch will encourage more drivers to sign up to the action. It added it was also talking to other law firms about joining forces with them, in an effort to avoid cost duplication.

If the High Court gives the action the go-ahead, a pre-trial hearing will follow and then the trial itself in about 18 months.

In a statement, VW said: “We have been notified that Harcus Sinclair intends to bring proceedings against Volkswagen on behalf of 77 claimants in the English High Court.

“We intend to defend such claims robustly,” it added.

Another law firm, Leigh Day, said it had been approached by about 10,000 VW owners regarding the emissions issue. However, the company said it wanted to avoid the “cost risk associated with pursuing the matter through the courts”. Instead, it had submitted some test cases to the dispute resolution body, the Motor Ombudsman.

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Aftermarket Product Group trends

Quarterly Trends supplied by Factor Sales

Factor Sales have kindly provided the following sterling comparison figures for 2015 and 2016:

Product Category trends based on Net Value
2016 v. 2015 % Change
11 EXHAUSTS -11%

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UK seeks details from US over Fiat Chrysler diesel emission accusations

The UK Department for Transport has asked for details of a US probe into Fiat Chrysler diesel emissions software as a matter of urgency.

The carmaker has been accused of not telling authorities about software that could allow excess diesel emissions in thousands of vehicles.

US regulator the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said 104,000 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks were affected.  Fiat has rejected the allegations.

A Department for Transport spokesman said it was “urgently seeking further information” from the EPA as well as Fiat Chrysler about vehicles sold in the UK.

“Our priority is to protect the interests of UK consumers … the department’s new Market Surveillance Unit has the ability to test these vehicles if necessary,” he said.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is sold in the UK, but the Dodge Ram is not.

Fiat Chrysler chief executive Sergio Marchionne said on Thursday that the company had done nothing illegal.

“There was never any intent of creating conditions that were designed to defeat the testing process. This is absolute nonsense,” he added.

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Norway begins digital switchover

A new era for radio has been heralded as Norway becomes the first country in the world to begin the process of switching off national FM transmissions to complete the transition to fully digital radio services.

The FM-switch which took place on Wednesday 11 January was marked by an international ceremony attended by senior radio and media policy figures including the Norwegian Secretary of State, Bård Folke Fredriksen; Paul Keenan, CEO Bauer Media UK and the Nordics; and Graham Dixon, Head of Radio, European Broadcasting Union. During the ceremony at precisely 11.11am, a giant dial was moved from FM to DAB to signify the moment of the transition.

The Norwegian switch off is to be implemented region by region across six regions, starting in the arctic city of Bodø in Nordland and ending in the northern regions of Troms and Finnmark on 13 December 2017. Norway’s radio industry, including public broadcaster NRK and commercial broadcasters P4 Group and Bauer Media’s SBS Radio, have collaborated on a plan to ensure a smooth transition for listeners, with all three turning off FM broadcasts simultaneously in two regions and NRK Radio leading the way in four.

Ford Ennals, CEO, Digital Radio UK, said: “Norway and the UK both have a common vision of a digital future for radio to allow it to compete effectively in a multiplatform and connected world. Norway has opted to accelerate the transition to digital radio through a coordinated digital radio switchover. We wish our Norwegian colleagues a successful and smooth transition and will be watching their progress with great interest as we move towards the threshold of 50% digital listening.”

DAB digital radio launched in Norway in 1995, just ahead of its UK launch, and FM switch off was announced in April 2015. Since then digital radio progress in Norway has accelerated and DAB coverage is now at 99.7% and 74% of the population have access to DAB digital radio. 78% of new cars in Norway now come with DAB as standard. Including five new stations launching on the day of the switch, there are 30 national services broadcasting on DAB in Norway compared to just five national FM stations.

The Norwegian switchover will affect all national radio stations and commercial local radio stations broadcasting in larger cities. Community radio stations and smaller local stations will continue to broadcast on FM for five more years after national switch off.

There are 5 million people in Norway and 2.4 million cars. The critical challenge for the Norwegian radio switchover is to ensure that drivers convert their analogue radios with 70% of cars at the beginning of 2017 not having access to digital radio.

In the UK, Government continues to support a listener led transition to digital and has stated it will review the next steps for digital radio when the coverage and listening criteria are met. Millions more listeners are benefitting from improvements to the coverage of both the national and local DAB networks and the addition of new national and local digital stations. Digital radio’s share of all UK radio listening has grown to 45.5% and is projected to reach 50% by the end of 2017. 57% of the UK population has access to a DAB digital radio and 86% of all new cars have digital radio as standard.

Whilst Norway is the first country in the world to switch off FM, digital radio is making strong progress across Europe beyond the UK. Switzerland has confirmed a switch over between 2020- 2024 whilst Governments in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands have all also confirmed support for a transition to digital radio.

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Hats off to Ben

Ben, the not-for-profit organisation that partners with the automotive industry, has raised £10,000 so far from its first ever national fundraising event – Hats on 4 Mental Health Day.

Across the UK on 10 November 2016, those working in the industry, including the IAAF Council, wore their hats to work and donated to help Ben support automotive colleagues facing mental health challenges. Around 90 companies took part in the event and the funds raised will go back into providing vital support for those who work in the industry and their families. Those taking part were encouraged to post their photos on social media under the hashtag #hatson4mentalhealth. The event was so popular that it became a trending topic on Twitter for hours.

IAAF Council members sporting their hats at the November Council meeting

Zara Ross, chief executive of Ben, said, ‘We were delighted to see so many organisations supporting Hats on 4 Mental Health Day. We have been overwhelmed by the response we have had and the awareness surrounding the campaign has been phenomenal.

‘It’s so important that we keep talking about mental health and reduce the stigma surrounding it as it affects so many of us. One in three people will experience mental health problems at work, which means that over 260,000 people within the automotive industry will face these challenges at some point in their lives. The money raised from Hats on 4 Mental Health Day will go towards supporting those individuals to help them get their lives back on track.

‘I would like to thank everyone who has taken part, helping us to raise awareness and get more people talking about mental health. We really appreciate the efforts that you, our automotive community, went to. We would also like to say ‘hold on to your hats’ as we will be running Hats on 4 Mental Health Day again this year.’


Euro Car Parts and Seeba founders join forces to fly the flag for e-waste

Sukhpal Ahluwalia, founder of Euro Car Parts and Badri Baldawa, founder of Seeba Group of Companies, have jointly and equally invested in EcoCentric Management Private Limited (EcoCentric), one of India’s fastest growing companies providing e-waste management solutions. Both Sukhpal and Badri will sit on the board of the company.

The Asian entrepreneurs have invested an undisclosed sum into the business as part of seed growth capital. These funds will be used to ‘scale up’ the business and expand EcoCentric’s operations both in India and internationally. Sukhpal and Badri continue to seek further opportunities to invest in India at seed funding stage.

EcoCentric provides corporates and individuals with a customised end-to-end solution for e-waste management, asset recovery, data security and destruction and reverse logistics. The company was founded in January 2011 to bridge the gap between informal and formal recycling of e-waste material.

E-waste is the waste generated from old and obsolete electronic and electrical equipment. The presence of heavy metals and chemicals make e-waste potentially hazardous and it is one of the fasted growing streams of hazardous waste globally.

Karan Thakkar, Founder and Managing Director of Ecocentric, comments: “India is the fifth-largest producer of e-waste globally, generating 2 million tonnes annually, of which only 5% is forwarded for formal recycling and 95% to the ‘informal sector’ which does not have the technical knowhow of recycling and resource recovery. As a result, manual recycling causes harm to the environment and the people involved in the trade.”

This has opened up a business opportunity for formal, professional recycling. Ecocentric has state-of-the-art recycling facilities with the capability of processing e-waste for metal recovery and hazardous waste treatment. With this current round of funding, the company will be able to increase its capacity from 2,500 metric tonnes per annum (mtpa) to 10,000 mtpa, while installing further collection facilities across India.

Karan continues: “It is estimated that the value of electronic equipment manufactured will reach approximately $35bn by 2020 and the recoveries from e-waste alone will be $4bn by the same year. With the experience, expertise and reach that Mr Baldawa and Mr Ahluwalia bring on board, the Ecocentric team is very confident of playing a leadership role in the Indian e-waste recycling sector.”

Sukhpal Ahluwalia is perhaps best known as the founder and driving force behind Euro Car Parts, which he founded over 30 years ago. The company achieved substantial year-on-year growth levels before being sold to NASDAQ-listed Fortune 500 company LKQ Corporation in 2011. Sukhpal has stayed on board as Executive Chairman of LKQ’s UK businesses and has more recently become executive director of the USA board. Sukhpal remains involved in many charitable and social activities, including an education charity in India and has formerly been Asian Businessman of the Year.

Sukhpal says: “My heart and passion resides in India. Having had great success as a business man in the UK and Europe, it is my duty and vocation to invest in and develop a practical legacy in India, helping to transform lives and convert aspirations into reality. With extensive connections in India and globally, myself and my good friend and peer Badri are well placed to help Ecocentric with its aim of creating and spreading awareness about ethical, safe and compliant e-waste management at a personal and professional level.”

Badri Baldawa founded Seeba Exporters from a small home office in 1986, turning into the global business it is today. His business philosophies – Creativity, Quality, Punctuality, Integrity and Professionalism – continue to drive the business as a leading supplier of high-quality stainless steel kitchenware and homeware products. Besides being associated with various trade organizations including the Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC), Indian Council of Small Industries (ICSI) and the Indian Merchants Association (IMA), Badri has also been the President of the All India Stainless Steel Industries Association (AISSIA).

Badri comments: “I am fully committed to supporting young entrepreneurs in their start-up journeys and this is no exception. Ecocentric has had a great start, already helping many Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to plan and execute their Extended Producer Responsibility. With our combined investment and hands on business experience, Sukhpal and I will help to guide the team to develop this company’s full potential.”

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WAI has appointed Christine Smith to the role of Marketing and Communications Manager

Based in Florida, as part of WAI’s US division, Smith joins from a sales and technology background, having worked previously in marketing, operations & management roles with API, Gatekeeper Business Solutions, Universal Health Services (UHS), Fine Lions, & Direct Office Interiors.

Christine Smith

Smith will use her marketing skills to implement a global marketing strategy promoting the WAI brand and building awareness of new and existing products and services to reach WAI’s target audience.

The role will also include creating valuable content to help maintain active communication, both domestically and globally, with WAI’s customer base. This engagement will allow for greater customer feedback, enabling WAI to determine and meet customer requirements.

Smith said: “The automotive industry is a challenging environment and we have the opportunity at WAI to effectively convey the power of WAI, its heritage, brand and products. In my new role, I look forward to elevating the WAI brand and product awareness on a global scale.”

Smith will be influential in helping to implement WAI’s new corporate identity nationwide, using a variety of promotional techniques, both online and offline, to highlight WAI’s proven quality and increase brand recognition.

Richard Welland, Managing Director – EMEA IAM & VP Global Marketing, added: “We’re delighted to welcome Christine to the team. Christine’s experience speaks for itself and we’re sure that she will help us to engage with current and potential customers across the globe while increasing our brand awareness.”

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DVSA MOT announcement released in error

The Department for Transport yesterday issued an announcement that they had opened the consultation seeking views on whether the age a vehicle gets its first MOT should be increased from 3 to 4 years.  However, the DfT has confirmed that this announcement was made in error and should have described proposals to allow learner drivers to have lessons on motorways.

The IAAF does intend to make a formal submission should a consultation be opened on the subject of MOT frequency and will advise its membership accordingly.

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Acceleration to the next level: ZF Aftermarket goes live

Thanks to the accelerated integration of TRW, lasting only about 14 months, ZF moves forward as a cohesive Aftermarket business, supplying global customers and partners with products in OE Quality and services from its expansive portfolio of premium product brands Sachs, Lemförder, TRW, Boge, and Openmatics. ZF demonstrates the growing importance of the aftermarket business with the status as division. ZF Aftermarket is now the second largest supplier of parts, services and solutions in the global automotive aftermarket.

Customers and business partners benefit directly from the change, effective from January 1, 2017: “We are on-site where our customers expect us to be with committed employees, a competitive product portfolio, strong brands and demand-driven service offers”, explains Helmut Ernst, Head of the new division. “As the newest ZF division we will support the group-wide development of system solutions as well as driving the aftermarket growth.”

ZF Aftermarket connected to global customers

With 8 000 employees throughout 120 global company locations and a 650-strong network of service partners worldwide, ZF Aftermarket is optimally equipped to be the preferred one stop shop for their customers. “ZF’s success is built on both its ability to advance technologically and its capacity for providing the right solutions”, explains Neil Fryer, Chief Commercial Officer of ZF Aftermarket.

Premium portfolio with wide-scale applications

ZF Aftermarket supplies solutions and component expertise to the automotive after sales segment under the product brands Sachs, Lemförder, TRW, Boge, and Openmatics, including transmissions and transmission parts, axles, steering systems and differentials, chassis and steering components, shock absorbers, disk brake systems, drum brakes and actuation systems as well as steering and driveline components as well as rubber-to-metal components. As the global leader in driveline and chassis technology and active and passive safety technology, ZF serves beyond the automotive aftermarket, also providing solutions for off-highway, rail, industry, marine and wind energy applications worldwide.

In the upcoming months, the ZF Aftermarket team will be actively using the numerous trade fairs and industry events to present the new set-up and vision. This, in turn, guarantees that the customers are vital partners in shaping a successful business partnership. “With early anticipation of the trends of the future aftermarket, a broad and expanding product portfolio and a comprehensive service footprint, the aftermarket organization continues ZF’s objective of becoming the leader in providing world class solutions for its customers”, knows Helmut Ernst.

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