Automechanika Birmingham 2018

With so much change going on in the automotive industry, Automechanika Birmingham can offer visitors a chance to stay up to date with emerging technologies, product innovation and insights into the future of the aftermarket.

To register for a free badge CLICK HERE.

Over 500 new & existing suppliers including: Delphi Technologies, Bosch UK, LIQUI MOLY GmbH, HELLA, MANN-FILTER, TEXA UK Ltd, Draper Tools, DURA Ltd, WIX Filters, Hofmann Megaplan, The Race Group (Part of Certas Energy), Milwaukee and more. See the exhibitor list here

NEW exhibitors for 2018 including AA Garage Guide, Toyota First, Snap-on, MEC-DIESEL spa, EFI Automotive Service, GSF Car Parts, Premier Components UK Ltd, Mac Tools (Stanley Black & Decker), Stanners Equipment, EDT Automotive Ltd and more.

NEW Garage Quarter a dedicated hall for great deals on tools and garage equipment

Aftermarket Seminars sponsored by Aftermarket magazine – hear presentations from SMMT, IAAF, The IMI, Gipa UK and The Motor Ombudsman

Keynote Panels sponsored by CAT magazine – expert speakers discussing big issues such as Connectivity & the Aftermarket, Electrification and Digitalisation of Distribution & Retail.

Retail Village – A dedicated area to find the latest offering of vehicle accessories. Suppliers include: SD Products, Chart One Automotive, BlackVue, Niccoman Car Mats, Michelin Lifestyle, 3T Logistics, J & T Bevan, Gorecki SP. J, Kufieta, G&S Penrith, Johnson Window and Autocharge UK

More meetings – pre-plan meetings with the right suppliers with a new meetings tool, coming soon!

Free breakfast when you register and recommend a colleague


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Parts Alliance opens new branches

The Parts Alliance has opened a new branch under its SCMF brand in Croydon and another one through its SAS Autoparts division in Newcastle. The move comes as part of the company’s growth strategy to reach more garages and suppliers across the country.

The Croydon store will help to serve garages and suppliers in the South East and Greater London areas within its 4,500 sq ft facility, housing 12 staff, two delivery vans and four motorcycles. William Barrett has been hired as Branch Manager who also possesses over 20 years of experience in the aftermarket.

“We’re delighted to continue our branch expansion to establish a true national footprint with a combination of company store owners 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”.

Meanwhile, the Newcastle SAS Autoparts site is headed up by Dave Watts who spent 15 years at Andrew Page’s Brough Parkfossway depot, which is still operating as normal. He is assisted by six members of staff with plans to recruit more employees in due course.

Sephton added: “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”. Henry Buckley, President and Uni-Select CEO, concluded: “This continues our commitment to have the best customer coverage in the UK through both owned stores and members”.

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Government announces £48 million for cleaner buses

A new Ultra Low Emissions bus scheme has been announced by the government, with £48million of funding available for local authorities and operators.

The announcement by Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani follows the success of a previous scheme that distributed £30million. The fund is designed to enable local authorities and operators in England and Wales to purchase low emission buses and the supportive infrastructure, as a part of the overall government programme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector.

Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani said: “We are doing more than ever before to reduce greenhouse gas pollution across all modes of transport and we are committed to ensuring nearly all cars and vans are emissions-free at their tailpipes by 2050. In order to achieve this ambitious target, the transport sector is going to have to change dramatically over the next couple of decades – and buses are no exception. We are confident this scheme will encourage councils and operators to invest in these ultra-low emission vehicles – speeding up the full transition to a low emission bus fleet in England and Wales.”

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UK a hub for illegal refrigerant sales

There are concerns that the UK has become a centre for sales of refrigerant in illegal disposable cylinders, a container which has been banned from use in Europe for over 10 years.

In addition to evidence of contractors being contacted directly with offers of refrigerant including R404A and R410A in disposable cylinders, a search of eBay revealed a number of vendors offering R404A in disposables. Some of those UK vendors are also the source of listings on other European eBay sites including Ireland and France.

eBay has deleted some of the items and insists that any listings that don’t comply with its policies will be removed.

All the suspect listings use images of disposable cylinders and some clearly state that the cylinders are disposable. It is not known whether the refrigerant has been imported outside of the quota system but it is clearly avoiding UK customs inspections and policing by the Environment Agency.

The huge increases in the price of high GWP refrigerants in the UK and Europe has prompted some individuals to seek alternative sources for the gas, and the lack of policing of the F-gas regulations has presented them with the opportunity for large profits.

The prices being quoted on eBay range from £280 to around £400 for the 10.9kg cylinders. This represents a large saving on prices quoted by reputable UK refrigerant sources where R404A currently sells for anything from around £60-£80/kg. By contrast, R404A prices in Turkey, a known source for some of this refrigerant, are currently as low as £8/kg.

Established suppliers have raised concerns as to the purity of some of this refrigerant and its effects on system efficiencies and reliability. Of greater concern is that the current higher prices, globally, might encourage a reappearance of the dangerous counterfeits which caused a number of deaths in 2011. While Europe was generally little affected at that time, there are worries that the much higher prices here, combined with lax import controls, could leave Europe exposed.

An eBay spokesman was reported as saying that they work with the police and regulators to ensure that all listings comply with the law. There are blocks in place to prevent the listing of illegal items, and they also constantly monitor their marketplace to enforce it.

Some of the illegal material now removed from eBay’s UK marketplace also included the CFCs R12 and R502 from a source in the USA.

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Garage finder upgraded

The Motor Ombudsman, the automotive dispute resolution provider, is pleased to announce that it has upgraded its online consumer reviews tool on its Garage Finder.

The refreshed design and layout makes it easier and quicker for any customer to express their opinions and evaluate a Motor Ombudsman-accredited franchised dealer or independent garage following a vehicle purchase or service.

Using the “Rate” button on a garage’s profile, a customer can select the relevant Code of Practice survey, namely Vehicle Sales, after buying a new or used car, or Service and Repair after having any work carried out on their vehicle. They are then able to score different aspects of their experience of the business based on a one to ten star rating. These include the booking process, the quality of work, as well as the likelihood of recommending the garage to others.

Furthermore, individuals have the facility to openly leave comments on a trader, which are subsequently displayed on their Garage Finder profile in addition to their overall star rating and the proportion of people who have recommended the business.

The reviews provided by motorists are invaluable for Motor Ombudsman-accredited businesses, as they can be used to further improve and refine internal processes to deliver even higher standards of workmanship and service. Similarly, it is an effective tool for garage owners to highlight positive performances to staff, or conversely, where something can be changed for the better.

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Government seeks EU approval to relax licensing for electric vans

The Government will seek agreement with the EU to permit drivers with category B licences to drive electric and hybrid vans weighing up to 4.25 tonnes.

It follows news that operators of alternatively-fuelled vehicles up to 4.25 tonnes will also be exempt from HGV operator licensing, as long as they only operate domestically.

The announcement, which follows a two-month consultation period, has been welcomed by the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

Currently, drivers with category B (car) licences are permitted to drive vans which weigh up to 3.5 tonnes. However, electric and hybrid vans of a comparable size must carry a large battery pack, making them slightly heavier.

“FTA is delighted the government has listened to the logistics industry and taken this positive step to make it easier for transport and freight companies to operate electric vehicles. This will make it cheaper and easier for firms to include alternatively-powered vehicles in their fleets. It is an excellent example of how the government can use regulatory adjustments to help our industry implement more energy-efficient working practices,” said Becki Kite, FTA’s Environment policy manager.

Kite believes the change means companies will no longer be penalised for using alternatively-fuelled vehicles and will more likely to adopt them.

“The heavier weights of these vehicles mean they have often been inaccessible for van operators who do not have an operator licence or the appropriately trained drivers,” she said.

“For firms with the appropriate operator licence, the additional regulation still meant extra cost in implementing appropriate compliance policies and recruiting additional drivers. Now they will be able to absorb these vehicles easily into their current working practices.”

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Case Study: A £300k penalty from HMRC for being one day late

A company has been hit with a very harsh penalty the first time it paid late – by one day. How did this happen, and can you avoid surcharges by paying on time?

Default. The default surcharge regime for VAT is unlike the normal penalty charging rules for other taxes. You go into default if you either submit a VAT return after the due date or pay all or some of the VAT shown on the return late. The good news is that a default surcharge penalty is only based on the tax unpaid by the due date, so there will be no penalty if the VAT return shows a repayment or in situations where you have paid the tax by the due date but for some reason have not submitted the return.

Percentages. On the first occasion of a default HMRC will issue a surcharge liability notice, warning that if you default again within the next twelve months, you will incur a default surcharge of 2% of the unpaid tax. This percentage rises to 5%, 10% and 15% each period until the business has a clean record for a full twelve-month period. It then reverts to the beginning again, i.e. you will receive a surcharge liability notice in the event of a default. If a surcharge is less than £400 for either the 2% or 5% period, then it is waived.

Case. So how did this company end up with a huge penalty the first time it was late paying? The problem was that whilst it had always paid on time, it was in default (at the 10% level) due to its haphazard filing history. So even though it had never paid late, its late returns meant a surcharge applied as soon as it did. The tax due was an eye-watering £3 million – hence the huge penalty.

Lesson. It is crucial to understand that the surcharge regime is triggered by either late filing or late payment – there aren’t two regimes for each type of default. You can avoid a penalty whilst you are in the regime by making sure you pay on time. However, the best way to avoid a penalty is to establish good filing habits, and putting aside cash for paying the VAT each quarter. Tip. If cash flow is a problem, consider the cash accounting scheme.

The company was already in default due to a history of filing returns late. If you are in default, you can avoid a penalty by paying on time, but slip up by even one day and it will cost you up to 15% of the late tax.

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Tesla recalls 123,000 cars

It has been reported in the UK press that Tesla has announced their largest ever recall for their Model S cars built before April 2016. Tesla has said that a power-steering component needs to be retrofitted.

The recall will affect around 123,00 vehicles globally. Tesla has reassured customers that the recall is not a response to any accident or injuries and will only affect the Model S sedan.

An email was sent to impacted customers which stated the reason for the recall as ‘excessive corrosion in the power steering bolts, though only in very cold climates, particularly those that frequently use calcium or magnesium road salts.’

‘Nonetheless, Tesla plans to replace all early Model S power steering bolts in all climates worldwide to account for the possibility that the vehicle may later be used in a highly corrosive environment,’ said Tesla spokesperson.

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