ZF signs definitive agreement to acquire WABCO

ZF Friedrichshafen AG, a leading global technology group and supplier of mobility systems for passenger cars, commercial vehicles and industrial technology, has announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire WABCO for $136.50 per share. The planned acquisition has been approved by ZF’s Management Board and Supervisory Board and WABCO’s Board of Directors. Together, ZF and WABCO will form a leading global integrated mobility systems provider for commercial vehicles, creating added value for ZF’s commercial vehicle customers. The combined company will have sales of approximately €40 billion.

WABCO is a leading global supplier of braking control systems, technologies and services that improve safety, efficiency and connectivity of commercial vehicles including trucks, buses and trailers. Its diverse products and services include integrated braking systems and stability control, air suspension systems, transmission automation controls, as well as aerodynamics, telematics, and fleet management solutions. WABCO, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), generated €3.3 billion in revenues in 2018 and has some 16,000 employees in 40 countries.

Wolf-Henning Scheider, CEO of ZF, said: “We believe that, together with WABCO, ZF can form the world’s leading integrated systems provider for commercial vehicle technology, creating long-term value and security for its customers, employees and owners. For ZF the acquisition of a specialist and leader for commercial vehicle braking systems means adding a stable and growing business segment and enables our existing commercial vehicle division to expand its expertise in vehicle dynamics control. This will create the foundation for ZF to offer comprehensive systems for safe and automated mobility solutions for passengers and goods to our customers. This is also in the best interest of our owners, the Zeppelin Foundation and the Dr. Jürgen and Irmgard Ulderup Foundation, as the transaction will result in a sustainable strengthening of ZF.”

Jacques Esculier, Chairman and CEO of WABCO, said: “Joining forces with highly respected ZF will create a leading global technology company well positioned to capitalise on future demand for autonomous, efficient and connected commercial vehicles. We have a long history of successful collaboration to develop innovative technologies with ZF with both companies sharing an uncompromising drive for excellence, passion for innovation, and exceptional customer focus.”

The planned acquisition is part of ZF’s Next Generation Mobility strategy and will expand the company’s expertise to include commercial vehicle braking solutions for the first time. This plays a central role for the control of automated driving functions – including emergency braking manoeuvres of trucks and trailers. Following the acquisition, customers of both companies will have a partner in ZF who can offer them a fully integrated system approach, new drive systems for E-Mobility and autonomous driving functions. ZF expects that automated driving functions will primarily be implemented for commercial vehicles and in areas with low complexity and traffic (e.g. factory sites, airports, agriculture). The combination of both businesses is expected to further accelerate the development of new technologies to enable autonomous commercial vehicle functions, making ZF less dependent on the economic cycle of the passenger car industry.

The planned strategic acquisition of WABCO is consistent with ZF’s goal to develop and deliver technology solutions that make cars and commercial vehicles see, think and act in order to reduce emissions and increase road safety. While ZF already has sensor systems and computing technology for its “see“ and “think” competence, together with WABCO ZF will in future be completing the portfolio for commercial vehicle technologies to offer solutions to allow vehicles to “act”. ZF is already a leading supplier in the area of steering and driveline technology.

Dr. Konstantin Sauer, CFO of ZF, said: “The intended strategic acquisition of WABCO comes at a good time for ZF. Following the successful integration of TRW, ZF has significantly reduced its debt levels. In fact, we overachieved in delivering our debt reduction targets. WABCO is a healthy and growing company with a strong cash flow profile that makes it a seamless fit with ZF and supports the implementation of our strategy.”

The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals, other customary closing conditions and shareholder approval with more than 50 percent of WABCO’s outstanding shares. ZF expects to close the transaction in the beginning of 2020.

Due to the cash flow profile of both parties, ZF expects to reduce financial leverage significantly again following the completion of the transaction.

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Test your knowledge and analytical skills!

Autotechnician magazine has again teamed up with contributor and Big Day Out trainer Andy Crook to deliver free, online tests for independent workshops & technicians throughout 2019 to assess technical knowledge, process and diagnostic capabilities. The Autotech assessments have been created to help entrants identify any weak areas and address them in a confidential and fun format.

Andy, of GotBoost, has devised Autotech Test #7: LIN Bus. The online assessment consists of 15 questions designed not just to test your knowledge of LIN Bus systems, but your understanding of the information presented and your ability to analyse the data and waveforms provided in order to draw diagnostic conclusions. Andy explains:

“It will also challenge your depth of networking knowledge; including technical vocabulary, system design and operation.

“The scenario is based on a Ford S-MAX charging fault, a job that we have fixed here at GotBoost, so represents the real-world challenges technicians face when dealing with intelligent charging systems.”

What score will you get?
Once registered at www.autotechnician.co.uk/registration, users have access to multiple choice tests, covering vehicle systems, theory and diagnostic scenarios. Once completed, score sheets marked with the correct answers are instantly emailed back to the participant, along with supporting learning material.

Register or log in to take the case study at www.autotechnician.co.uk/registration.

The diagnostic duo are busy mapping out a training event to shake up fault-finding practices on Saturday 11th May with the first Big Day Out of 2019 at the Historic Dockyard in Chatham, Kent.

Independent workshop owners/trainers James Dillon of Technical Topics & Andy Crook of GotBoost will present a fault scenario, then it’s over to the audience to come up with the hypothesis and method of testing. This will then be carried out live on the vehicle to prove or refute the theory. Delegates will evaluate the data gathered and decide on the next steps in the process.

As and when the opportunity presents itself, the dynamic duo will explain the practices and theories behind the process and systems they use to tackle their diagnostic conundrums.

It will be a truly dynamic experience as the decision-making process is based on the evidence as it is gathered and presented, much like it is in the workshop. Each session aims to challenge your current thinking, procedures, and evidence-gathering methods.

Join them on Saturday 11th May for a unique, audience-led training experience.

Call 01634 816 165 to secure your place or email admin@autotechnician.co.uk. Subsidised tickets are available for £86.80+VAT.

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IAAF Golf Days 2019 – don’t forget to book your place!

The 2018 winning team from Elcome, pictured with IAAF Chief Executive Wendy Williamson   

Further to the announcement of the dates for this years events, the IAAF has confirmed that it will once again be accepting entries from individuals, as well as the usual teams of four.

The overall winning team from across the two days’ play will be invited to the IAAF’s Annual Dinner in December where they will be presented with their trophy.

The venues and dates are as follows:

  • North:  9th July Worsley Park, Nr. Manchester
  • Midlands:  15th August The Abbey Hotel & Golf Course, Redditch

The cost per team of four will be £360 per team plus vat and the cost for individuals will be £95 plus VAT per person. This includes:

  • Bacon Sandwich and coffee/Tea on arrival
  • 18 Holes of golf
  • Evening meal served after golf
  • Presentation of prizes to the winners on the day

The Company Team Challenge will be a four ball format whereby the best two scores on each hole will score and on all par three holes all four scores will count. The overall winning team across the two days’ play will be invited to the IAAF’s Annual Dinner in December and will be presented with their prizes.

Various sponsorship opportunities are available; these are:

  • Longest Drive £100 + cost of trophy (c. £50)
  • Nearest the Pin £100 + cost of trophy (c. £50)
  • Golf Tees and Balls £100 + supply of tees and balls
  • Golf Umbrella Sponsor £100 + supply of umbrellas

Joe Richardson is again kindly organising these events on behalf of the IAAF and BEN and, if you need any further details, you can either contact him on 07831 855829 or the IAAF Office.

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Neil Croxson becomes President and COO of The Parts Alliance

The Parts Alliance has announced that its Chief Financial Officer, Neil Croxson (pictured) has been appointed to the position of President and Chief Operating Officer, effective immediately. Neil succeeds Peter Sephton who will be retiring after ensuring an orderly transition over a three-month period.

“I would like to thank all my colleagues in The Parts Alliance, Uni-Select, suppliers and other industry professionals who have helped our journey to build a market leader, and I wish Neil and the team the best of luck in what will be a great onward journey,” said Peter Sephton.

Neil Croxson joined The Parts Alliance as CFO in 2015 and has been playing a pivotal role in the expansion of the network through selected acquisitions and the opening of 15 company-owned stores. He has worked in close collaboration with Peter Sephton to deliver the group’s financial strategy and increase market coverage in the U.K. and Ireland.

“Neil Croxson has already demonstrated great leadership capabilities and we are delighted to see him progress into such a strategic role,” said André Courville, Interim President and CEO of parent company Uni-Select. “I also wish to thank Peter for building The Parts Alliance into a formidable force and market leader in the U.K. autoparts distribution industry and help us grow the business further after Uni-Select acquired it in 2017. We are glad that Peter will continue to work with us as a special advisor and represent our interests in associated trade bodies, such as Nexus International.”

“I am honoured to be taking on this new role,” said Neil Croxson, President and COO of The Parts Alliance. “We had an excellent performance during our first full-year under the Uni-Select umbrella, and under Peter’s leadership, we implemented strong foundations to enable us to capture future market opportunities. I look forward to building on this momentum.”

An Interim CFO at The Parts Alliance will be named for the transition period and until the conclusion of the executive search for this position.

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Speed limiters head raft of safety rules due to be introduced from 2022

A range of new vehicle safety features, to be fitted as standard on all new cars, vans, lorries and buses sold in Europe from 2022, has moved a step closer after a provisional EU deal was reached in Strasbourg.

The new rules include requirements for new technologies, such as Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) and over-ridable Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA), to be fitted as standard for the first time.

ISA uses GPS data and traffic sign recognition to locate the vehicle and the current road speed limit to prevent the driver from speeding. However, it can be overridden by accelerating hard, for overtaking manoeuvres, while the European Transport Safety Council has called for all vehicles to have a switch so ISA can be turned off during a phasing in period.

New lorries will also be required to have improved levels of ‘direct vision’, based on Transport for London’s Direct Vision Standard, to give drivers a greater chance of seeing vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists around the vehicle.

Furthermore, the legislation aims to tackle drink-driving by making it easier to retrofit an alcohol interlock device – a technological solution for tackling repeat drink-driving in use in a number of EU Member States.

New vehicles will also be required to be fitted with Electronic Data Recorders that store vital data on the car’s status in the moments immediately before a collision. Such information is vital to understanding why crashes occur and for preventing future collisions.

Britain is expected to follow the same rules, irrespective of Brexit.

As part of the process, researchers from TRL – the UK-based Transport Research Laboratory – conducted a cost-benefit evaluation the next generation of vehicle safety standards.

Negotiators from the European Parliament and European Commission agreed with representatives of EU Member State governments on the final shape of the regulations first announced by the European Commission in May last year.

However, the negotiated deal is provisional and still subject to formal votes in the European Parliament and by EU Member States. Due to European Parliamentary elections in May, this process could still take several more months.

Commenting on the provisional deal, Antonio Avenoso, executive director of the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), said: “There have only been a handful of moments in the last fifty years which could be described as big leaps forward for road safety in Europe. The mandatory introduction of the seat belt was one, and the first EU minimum crash safety standards, agreed in 1998 was another. If yesterday’s agreement is given the formal green light in September, it will represent another of those moments, preventing 25,000 deaths within 15 years of coming into force.”

He continued: “Although this legislation was many years in the planning stages, there has been relatively little time for political discussions over its final shape.

“We would like to pay tribute to the MEPs and representatives of the Commission and Member States that have worked tirelessly to get a deal done before the big changeover at the European Parliament and European Commission this summer. In particular the Romanian EU presidency, European Commissioners Elzbieta Bienkowska and Violeta Bulc, and the Polish MEP Róza Thun deserve recognition for their commitment to seeing this legislation through.

Bienkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs at the EC, also believes that the new vehicle safety legislation will have the same kind of impact as when the safety belts were first introduced.

She concluded: “Many of the new features already exist, in particular in high-end vehicles. Now we raise the safety level across the board, and pave the way for connected and automated mobility of the future.”

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Making Tax Digital to come into effect next week

From next week, any business that has a taxable turnover above £85,000 and is VAT-registered will need to keep digital records of tax and VAT returns after 31 March 2019.

To do this, businesses will need to begin using MTD-compatible software, which supports their ability to exchange data records digitally between themselves and HMRC.

If more than one application is being used, data that flows between those applications must also be exchanged digitally, called ‘bridging software’.

Digital records can be kept in a range of compatible digital formats.

They do not all have to be held in the same place or on one piece of software.

For example, a spreadsheet can be a component of digital record keeping provided the product that consolidates records, or summary records from the spreadsheet, can exchange data digitally with HMRC.

Time to make changes
HMRC will give businesses until 31 March 2020 to make sure there are digital links between software products.

Before that date, cut and paste will be an acceptable way to transfer information.

A list of all software providers which businesses and agents can use can be found here.

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Garage of the Year 2019 entries now open

The competition this year features nine categories with £1,000 cash prize for overall winner – here’s how to enter

Independent garages from across the UK are being urged to enter Automechanika Birmingham’s renowned Garage of the Year competition which is now open for entries.

Sponsored by the Independent Garage Association and run in partnership with Garage Wire, the competition is open to all garage businesses.

Entries can be made online but must be submitted before the deadline of 26 April 2019.

Entrants may enter more than one category, explaining why their garage deserves to win the much-coveted prize, with the chance to walk away with £1,000.

Winners from each category will be announced at a special evening dinner to be held at the National Motor Cycle Museum on 5 June 2019, with drinks available from 7 pm after the second day of the show.

All shortlisted garages will once again receive two free tickets to the dinner, offering a superb opportunity to combine a relaxing evening celebrating the achievements of the independent sector with a productive visit to the Automechanika Birmingham show.

Garage of the Year 2019 categories
Best Small Garage
Best Large Garage
Best Community Initiative
Auto-mechanik of the Year
Technology Innovation
Business Innovation Award
Commitment to Training and Standards
Outstanding Achievement
Garage Owner of the Year

The fiercely contested ‘Best Small Garage’ and ‘Best Large Garage’ categories will also now each recognise a northern and southern regional winner too.

Confirmed award sponsors include EDT Automotive, Autologic and Gallagher.

Jack Halliday, event director for Automechanika Birmingham, said: “We are confident that Automechanika’s Garage of the Year 2019 will be the best yet.

“It’s moved to an even better venue in the motorcycle museum, much closer to the show with more room for garages, sponsors and guests.

“It promises to be an enjoyable evening recognising many exceptional examples of forward-thinking garages succeeding.”

It’s the third year for the competition, with the 2019 evening event aiming to build on the success of last year’s dinner which hosted over 160 garage staff and supplier sponsors at the Directors’ Club of Aston Villa Football Club.

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FIGIEFA takes part in testing ExtendedVehicle (“Proof of Concept”)

FIGIEFA and many other market operators have for some time criticised the vehicle manufacturers’ concept of external back-end servers for third party data access, “ExtendedVehicle” (ExVe). It is considered by the automotive aftermarket as a major threat to competition, as it would result in preventing direct, real-time, bidirectional access to the vehicle, its functions, data and users, for independent operators, which are needed for truly undistorted competition. A practical field test specific study was carried out which showed the technical limits of ExtendedVehicle.

Despite this evidence, the European Commission asked the European associations of vehicle manufacturers (ACEA), parts suppliers (CLEPA) and the AFCAR Aftermarket Alliance to run another ‘proof of concept’ of ExtendedVehicle (ExVe) and Neutral Server (NS). It was intended to be a “stress test” showing the possibilities and limitations of ExVe/NS. AFCAR accepted the invitation to participate, but only under the condition that the tests would not only focus on the technical feasibility (i.e. what the OEMs are willing to offer), but on the ability to maintain undistorted and equal access for all operators.

Against this background, and in conjunction with the AFCAR stakeholders, FIGIEFA started to conduct concrete testing in real-time conditions of its ‘Remote Diagnostic’ use case. The aim of this use case was to address an increasingly common fault with a direct environmental relevance: how blocked Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) valves affect the vehicle drivability and environmental compliance. This use case has a strong market relevance, with over 25,000 examples last year in Germany alone, and illustrating a real example of an innovative digital service from an independent service provider based on technically feasible requirements. The objective of the use case was to test not only how independent operators can receive relevant real-time data related to the EGR valve and perform a remote diagnostic test routine, but also a remote temporary repair.

This use case requires several critical abilities: direct access to dynamic in-vehicle data; bi-directional communication and functional control with the vehicle and its systems; real-time data analysis requiring embedded applications; communication with the driver through HMI functions and communication with the service provider‘s remote technician. As such, it should expose the impact on competition resulting from the restricted access to the vehicle and its data, together with the latency imposed by the ExVe/NS, among other practical limitations imposed by this system.

The ‘proof of concept’ is due to be finalised in April 2019.

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Everything you need to know about ultra-low emission zones (ULEZ)

The world’s first ever ultra-low emission zone will be introduced in central London on the 8th April 2019

London will introduce the world’s first ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) in an attempt to reduce the most harmful emissions generated by road transport. Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, wants to half vehicle emissions in the city by 2020.

What is an ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ)?
The ULEZ is a defined area in a city where vehicles must meet strict emissions requirements or face a daily charge to travel. The world’s first ULEZ will be introduced in London to combat pollution in the city’s most built-up areas.

The ULEZ is an extension of the low emission zone (LEZ).

Where is the ULEZ?
The ULEZ will fall within the same area as the congestion charge zone which is in central London. There are plans to extend the zone to inner London in October 2021.

When will the ULEZ be introduced?
The ULEZ will be introduced on the 8th April 2019.

Which vehicles are affected?
Petrol vehicles that don’t meet the Euro 4 standards and diesel vehicles that don’t meet the Euro 6 standards will be affected by the ULEZ. The majority of diesel vehicles registered before 2015 and petrol vehicles registered before 2006 will not meet the ULEZ standards.

How much is the charge?
£12.50 for vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes like cars, vans and motorcycles
£100 for vehicles over 3.5 tonnes like lorries, buses and coaches

This charge must be paid in addition to the weekday congestion charge and the low emission zone (LEZ) charge.

You can pay the charge online on the Transport for London (TfL) website.

When will the ULEZ be in operation?
The ULEZ will be in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

A daily charge will run from 0.01am – midnight. Which means if you enter the ULEZ at 10pm and leave the following day at 6am you would have to pay two daily charges, even though you have been in the ULEZ for less than 24 hours.

What happens if I don’t pay the charge?
If the driver of a non-compliant vehicle doesn’t pay the ULEZ charge, they will be issued with a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).

£160 penalty for cars, vans and motorcycles (reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days)
£1,000 penalty for lorries, buses and coaches (reduced to £500 if paid within 14 days)

Is anyone exempt from paying the charge?
Vehicles registered with a disabled or disabled persons’ tax class will be exempt from the ULEZ charge until October 2025.

Vehicles registered for a residents’ congestion charge discount will be exempt from the ULEZ charge until October 2021.

Are there plans to introduce ULEZ in other parts of the UK?
Birmingham and Bath plan to set up a similar scheme to London’s ULEZ in 2020 and will charge up to £12.50 per day for non-compliant vehicles. Other cities in the UK are following suit with Leeds, Glasgow and Manchester announcing clean air zones similar to London’s congestion charge and LEZ.

Where can I find out more information about the ULEZ?
To find out more about the ULEZ, visit Transport for London’s website here.

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Motorists to be paid £3,000 per year to ditch their cars and use eco-friendly transport

Drivers will be paid up to £3,000 per year if they agree to swap their cars for public transport, under Government plans to reduce congestion and air pollution.

A Government-funded trial this year will see motorists who give up their cars paid a sum of between £2,000 and £3,000 every year to spend on public transport, electric car hire and bicycle sharing schemes, the Times has reported.

Participants in the scheme will have credit loaded on to a travel card or smartphone app, which they can then spend on alternative, eco-friendly transport methods.

Part of a £20 million Government future mobility grant, the project is to be launched in Coventry and then rolled out across the West Midlands Combined Authority – representing 12 councils – and further if it’s deemed a success.

Convincing drivers to give up cars
For the duration of the trial period, more than 100 drivers are expected to temporarily give up their cars in to gauge how much funding will be needed to convince people to permanently change their modes of travel.

If the scheme is expanded to operate across the UK permanently, it will at first be paid for by the taxpayer, before long-term funding is found from private firms, such as electric car clubs, bus companies and train operators.

Data from earlier this year suggests that congestion cost the UK £7.9bn in 2018 – an average of £1,317 per driver.

John Seddon, head of transport and innovation at Coventry city council, told the Times that the trial is “a variant of scrappage schemes of the past”.

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