New MOT requirements

From May 2018, there will be three new categories of caution created in the MOT Inspection of motor vehicles.

Issues inspected which are categorised as “DANGEROUS” will qualify for an automatic failure. The tester will have the discretion to ban the removal of a vehicle so assessed from the testing premises other than on a trailer if it is no longer regarded as safe to drive away.

Issues categorised as “MAJOR” may create the same obligation not to allow the car back on the road until corrected or it might be possible to say the vehicle can be driven away but will fail the inspection until corrected.

Issues categorised as “MINOR” will not induce a failure but should be corrected as soon as possible.

Examples of the above might include dampness around a shock absorber (minor leak), to a steady flow of oil from the shock absorber (major leak), to shock absorber detached (dangerous).

Following the VW scandal, emissions analyses are being tightened on diesel cars. There will now be a range of readings that will govern whether the car is compliant or not.

Lipped brake discs, oil contamination on brakes, wheel and hub security will also be listed for more careful scrutiny from May.

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Revised EU legislation reminder on use of HFCs as refrigerants

The revised F-Gas regulation, which came into force in January 2015 is now beginning to have an impact on the UK marketplace. The 2014 Regulation replaces the 2006 F-Gas Regulation, strengthening all of the pre-existing requirements and introducing a number of important new measures. The 2006 MAC Directive, defining further controls related to cars and other small road vehicles, remains in force.

The aim of the regulation is to reduce F-Gas emissions by two thirds and to encourage the use of viable and more climate-friendly alternatives. As a result, the regulation introduced a quota system to limit and control the amount of HFCs that can be placed on the market in all applications. For the aftermarket, this particularly impacts the supply of 134a gas, used as the refrigerant in mobile air conditioning units (MACs) on cars, LVs and CVs. From 1 January 2018, this phase down represents 63% of 2015 levels and will decrease down to 45% in 2021.

At the same time, use of 134a gas in new vehicles was banned from 2017 and replaced with 1234yf which has a significantly lower global warming potential. This new gas is not subject to the F-Gas regulation.

Full details of the legislation can be found on the website of IAAF member Harp International

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Get safety recalls fixed – or risk prosecution – DVSA warns

Motor traders that sell cars with outstanding safety recalls are breaking the law the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) warns today, as it launches a new service designed to help people buying cars – and traders themselves – check if cars are safe.

The regulations say that traders need to get cars with outstanding recalls fixed before selling a car on to a consumer. If they don’t, they can be prosecuted by Trading Standards.

The rules apply to all commercial sales, from online sellers, authorised dealers and franchises to small, independent High Street firms.

So, the new check for a car safety recall service uses data supplied by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) to allow anyone wanting to buy a used car, and existing car owners, to check if it has an outstanding safety recall by using its registration number.

The service joins DVSA’s check the MOT history of a vehicle, which allows buyers to check whether a car has a current MOT and has been well maintained.  DVSA Chief Executive, Gareth Llewellyn, said:

“DVSA’s priority is to protect you from unsafe drivers and vehicles.

“It’s an offence for a motor dealer to sell a car with an outstanding vehicle safety recall. They need to get it fixed before a car is sold.

“This new service allows you to check if a specific car has any outstanding vehicle safety recalls, making it potentially dangerous, simply by entering its registration number.”

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said:

“Car makers in the UK have a world-leading record for successful safety recalls, and dealers need to keep themselves up to date to ensure every used car they sell is safe. This new service using SMMT data now makes that even easier, allowing them to see whether a car has any recalls outstanding at the same time as checking its MOT history.”

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ECP backs CV business expansion

The UK’s fastest growing commercial vehicle motor factor business, Digraph, will open 16 new branches in the next six months and create 164 jobs as part of an aggressive growth strategy.

The moves will be in addition to several acquisitions of similar businesses and expansion of existing branches.

The move follows significant investment in the company by Sukhpal Singh Ahluwalia and Euro Car Parts Ltd (ECP). The expansion is part of Digraph’s strategy to transform the industry by helping customers to reduce downtime, cut costs and increase efficiency.

Sukhpal Singh Ahluwalia

Sukhpal commented, ‘Locations, stock and logistics are relatively straightforward – indeed we once opened 12 Euro Car Parts branches in a single day. Our challenge is to find the right people and partners to join us in delivering our vision of market-leading customer service nationwide. We are building our new branches around the best team players.

‘We are shaking up the industry in other ways too, with major investment in stock ranges, accelerated delivery speeds and added-value programmes, as we continue to build the UK’s most powerful team.’

Branch expansions and upgrades are happening in Gloucester, Northampton, Nuneaton and Stoke. The Northwich branch is relocating to larger premises in Ellesmere Port which will treble the stock holding and give improved deliveries to the customer base.

Brand new Digraph branches are also planned for Bristol, Cardiff, Carlisle, Crawley, Farnborough, Glasgow, Heathrow, Leeds, Leighton Buzzard, Manchester, Norwich, Peterborough, Preston, Reading, Swindon and Woodford Green.

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The Parts Alliance announces two new branch openings

Uni-Select Inc. has announced that The Parts Alliance, one of its subsidiaries, has opened two new branches in the United Kingdom.

The Parts Alliance has opened two new branches in February. This follows two further branch additions towards the end of 2017 with Midsomer Norton and Southampton in Southern England.

Croydon opened in January under the SCMF brand and extends ability to serve customers in the South East and the greater London area. To extend the Parts Alliance reach in the North West of the UK, where there is a sizeable and sweet spot car parc, the PA opened Newcastle under their SAS brand.

These new store openings represent ongoing investment from The Parts Alliance and an ongoing commitment to endorse and develop their trusted local motor factor brands giving local service combined with national strength. These new locations will enable improved service for both independent garages and the group’s growing national accounts portfolio.

The new SAS branch in Newastle-upon-Tyne

“We’re delighted to continue our branch expansion to establish a true national footprint with a combination of company owned stores and a commitment to members and service partners,” said Peter Sephton, Parts Alliance CEO. “We welcome all our new team members to our culture of systemised entrepreneurship and look forward to giving our customers increased choice and better service driven by our people culture and technology platform”.

“The opening of two new locations is an opportunity to expand the group’s presence nationally and aligns with our strategic plan to grow in key markets,” added Henry Buckley, President and Chief Executive Officer of Uni-Select. “This continues our commitment to have the best customer coverage in the United Kingdom through both owned stores and members”.

The national car parts distributor says new branch openings, coupled with select acquisitions and new Parts Alliance members, are key opportunities for us to expand our UK coverage.

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Autoelectro delighted to reveal revised surcharge plan

Autoelectro has proudly unveiled the introduction of a new surcharge strategy – with many part numbers now surcharge-free.

From 1st March, more than 2,000 references will have their surcharge charges cut, demonstrating the company’s allegiance to its customers and commitment as the UK’s largest independent remanufacturer of starter motors and alternators.

The 10 bestselling and over half of the top 100 part numbers within its sales Pareto will be surcharge-free.

This landmark announcement is a result of more than 12 months’ development and graft behind the scenes, with the sole aim of presenting its customers with a cost-effective solution for rotating electrics.

In November, the company launched a short surcharge-free range of non-exchange (NEX) units to complement its full remanufacturing programme of more than 4,000 individual references.

Over the coming weeks, Managing Director, Tony Bhogal, will give an insight into how Autoelectro reached its new surcharge structure, while UK Sales Manager, Nick Hood, will be using his ‘Nick Says’ column to present a candid and comprehensive assessment of what it means for the company’s network of motor factors.

Furthermore, at the beginning of April, Autoelectro will be announcing another momentous milestone, with the introduction of a revolutionary tool. It will give full surcharge transparency and will assist in securing maximum profits from stock on the shelf, thus, transforming the way in which the company works alongside those motor factors.

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SMPE donates to British Heart Foundation

Nottingham-based automotive parts supplier, SMPE, has donated much-needed funds to the British Heart Foundation, by organising a ‘Wear Pink or Red’ event held on Valentine’s Day, in support of Heart Month.

By donating £2 each, staff took part and raised a grand total of more than £150, by wearing red and pink clothing to work, to coincide with the most romantic day on the calendar, 14 February.

The SMPE fundraisers sporting their pink and red clothes

Each February, the British Heart Foundation celebrates Heart Month, an annual campaign to raise awareness of heart disease, to promote heart health and a healthier lifestyle. The public is encouraged to get involved in fundraising, campaigning or volunteering, with the money raised going towards research to help in the fight against coronary heart disease, the nation’s single biggest killer.

Richard Morley, SMPE managing director, said: “We are delighted to have raised money for this extremely worthy cause, something that seven million people in the UK live with and can affect any one of us.

“It was an opportunity to have a bit of fun in the office, while showing our support for something so important.”

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VW to introduce WLANP standard

From 2019 onwards, the brands of the Volkswagen Group are to use the WLANp standard, which has already been comprehensively tested, for communications among vehicles and between vehicles and their environment.

The introduction of this technology as standard equipment on volume models ranging from compact cars to commercial vehicles will significantly improve safety on the roads of Europe.

Networking among vehicles and between vehicles and their environment, irrespective of manufacturer, will be a key step in reducing road accidents. Within a few milliseconds, traffic-relevant information on the local environment about 500 m around the vehicle will be transmitted.

The principle of platooning, with networked trucks driving in synchronized convoys, is also based on this technology. In addition to improving road safety and traffic flow, the new technology will also reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

Dr. Ulrich Eichhorn, head of group research and development, said, ‘All the conditions for the rapid introduction of this technology have been met. With WLANp networking, which has been thoroughly tried and tested and is now ready for use, we will significantly improve road safety throughout Europe. This will take us one step closer to Vision Zero, the vision of accident-free driving.’

The area-wide introduction of standardized WLANp , which has already been comprehensively tested, will also provide a reliable system for operators of traffic infrastructure (such as traffic lights), and fleets (emergency service and construction site vehicles). This way, information on traffic flow, accidents, roadworks and other relevant situations and events can be reliably made available in the local area.

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Minimum Wage & Tribunal Award Increases

Minimum Wage Increase
The National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Regulations 2018 have been laid before parliament.

They provide for the annual increase to the minimum wage and national living wage with effect from 1 April 2018 as follows:

  • 25+ – £7.83 (previously £7.50)
  • 21-24 – £7.38 (previously £7.05)
  • 18-20 – £5.90 (previously £5.60)
  • <18 – £4.20 (previously £4.05)
    The accommodation offset will be £7.00 per day (previously £6.40).

Tribunal Awards Increase
The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2018 has also been laid before parliament and comes into force on 6 April 2018.

It contains the normal annual increases to maximum and minimum tribunal awards.

Key increases are:

  • Maximum week’s pay (for redundancy payments and the unfair dismissal basic award): £508 (currently £489)
  • Maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal: £83,682 (currently £80,541).

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Preparing for GDPR – consent to email marketing

Lawgistics has drawn up advice on the standard to be achieved when relying on consent as the lawful basis for utilising personal data for direct marketing purposes, direct marketing being defined in the current Data Protection Act as “the communication (by whatever means) of any advertising or marketing material which is directed to particular individuals”.

Article 6 of the GDPR sets out 6 lawful bases for processing personal data:

  1. Consent
  2. Necessary for a contract with the individual
  3. Necessary for compliance of a legal obligation
  4. Necessary to protect interest of the data subject or another natural person
  5. Necessary for a public interest task or official duty
  6. Necessary for legitimate interests of the controller or a third party.

While consent may seem the obvious basis for marketing activity, pre-existing marketing databases may not meet the GDPR standard and unless a business wished to scrap its entire marketing database, it will need to see if another base can apply. This is where ‘legitimate interests’ may be applicable.

Lawgistics feel that ‘legitimate interest’ basis will be well used and thus the ICO will no doubt be keen to ensure it is not overused.

Recital 47 of the GDPR specifically states that “the processing of personal data for direct marketing purposes may be regarded as carried out for a legitimate interest”. This is good news and could mean marketing may be sent out under the lawful basis of legitimate interest. However, it must be balanced this against the requirements of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) which deals with electronic marketing.

PECR Regulation 22 requires that a company needs consent to send a marketing email unless;

a) the recipient is an existing customer or potential customer who has previously made an enquiry for a product or service

b) the direct marketing is in respect of similar products and services only; and

c) the recipient has been given a simple means of refusing (free of charge except for the costs of the transmission of the refusal) the use of his contact details for the purposes of such direct marketing, at the time that the details were initially collected, and at the time of each subsequent communication.

A business will therefore need to meet the GDPR criteria for consent to marketing unless it meets the above PECR criteria which is known as the ‘soft opt-in’ rule. The ‘soft op in’ means marketing can be sent to existing customers about similar products as long as they have been offered the opportunity to opt-out when their details were first collected and they are offered the same opt-out opportunity in every subsequent marketing communication.

If details were collected from existing customers and with an opt-out option, this marketing can continue under GDPR (using legitimate interest as the basis), however the business must comply with Article 21 of GDPR which gives customers the ‘right to object’ at any point.

However, any business whose current marketing is not already compliant with the law in regard to email marketing will probably need to start again and get consent when the customer first makes contact.

Lawgistics’ advise regarding the acceptability of a consent box and statement under GDPR is that the statement: “We may use your information to send you details of special offers on products and services. Please tick if you do not wish to receive such emails” is not acceptable under GDPR because the GDPR requires a positive opt-in, not an opt-out and so the clause would need to read:

From time to time we would like to send you information about our products, services and special deals. Please tick this box if you would like to receive such updates from us.”

Any business whose marketing database does not meet either the GDPR consent criteria or the criteria for the ‘soft opt in’ under PECR Regulation 22 will not be able to send an email asking for consent to further marketing emails, as that email itself will be considered as marketing, may be considering telephoning these people to get consent.

Live phone calls are covered by Regulation 21 of the PECR. This allows businesses to make unsolicited marketing calls to people. However, before making a call, the business must check that the person is not registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). If a person is on that list and they do not want to receive calls, and cannot be telephoned without specific permission from that individual. Having checked the TPS and established that the customer is not listed, they can be call to ask for consent to future email marketing but businesses are advised to keep a clear record of the conversation and date. Anyone who expressly requests to not receive further calls must be noted and that list checked each time such calls are made in the future. A busines must not withhold its number when making these calls.

If a marketing call is to another business both the TPS and the CTPS lists must be checked as some businesses (e.g. sole traders) will be registered with the TPS and some will be registered with the CTPS (limited companies). However if the business is not on either list, they can continue to be called. Under GDPR, legitimate interest would be cited as the basis for processing.

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