FPS goes gold

FPS sponsored athlete, Andrew Pozzi, won gold in the 60m hurdles at the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Belgrade on 3rd March
FPS has sponsored local Stratford-upon-Avon hurdler, Andrew Pozzi, since 2011, and Andrew has even done work experience with the marketing team. Since then, the company has closely followed the highs and lows of his GB senior career, and are delighted for Andrew in winning one of 5 gold medals for Team GB at the European Indoor Athletics Championships.

FPS Managing Director, Neil Davis, commented “Andrew is a real example to us all. He has had major injuries and multiple operations, but always believed he would realise his potential. He has worked so hard in the face of adversity and we are really pleased for him to win this gold medal which recognises him as the best in Europe.“

It was a closely fought race – Andrew finished just 0.01 seconds in front of the defending champion, France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde. Andrew commented, “It has been a long old road and I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to the level I wanted to be at, so to win with grit and determination, I’m over the moon.”

Andrew returned to racing shortly before the Rio Olympics, getting as far as the semi-finals. This year, we’ve seen Andrew not only return to his previous form but improve upon it, achieving a personal best indoor time of 7.43 seconds at the Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix in February.

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Budget News

Changes to tax treatment of diesel vehicles to be announced in the autumn

The Chancellor Philip Hammond has put the fleet industry on alert after announcing that he expects to reveal changes to the tax treatment of diesel vehicles in the autumn.

He said that the Government was committed to improving air quality, and will consult on a detailed draft plan in the spring which will set out how the UK’s air quality goals will be achieved.

Alongside this, he said it will “continue to explore the appropriate tax treatment for diesel vehicles, and will engage with stakeholders ahead of making any tax changes at Autumn Budget 2017”.
Energy and transport taxes

From 1 April 2017, VED rates for cars, vans and motorcycles registered before April 2017 will increase by Retail Prices Index (RPI).

Meanwhile, HGV VED and Road User Levy rates will be frozen from April 1, 2017. A call for evidence on updating the existing HGV Road User Levy will also be launched this spring.

The Government says it will work with industry to update the Levy so that it rewards hauliers that plan their routes efficiently, to incentivise the efficient use of roads and improve air quality.

Hammond had previously announced the continuing freeze in fuel duty in Autumn Statement 2016.

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First IAAF Industry Briefing Session of 2017 fully booked

The IAAF is running a series of 7 Industry Briefing Meetings around the UK during 2017 and is extremely pleased with the interest in the first of these which is to be held at Sales-i in Solihull on Thursday 16th March.  This is now fully booked.

The sessions are being headed up by Mike Smallbone, Membership Development Manager, and are designed to keep IAAF members up-to-date on some of the challenges, and opportunities, facing the Independent Automotive Aftermarket. These meetings are free of charge for members and are aimed typically at “middle managers” although they are of course open to any IAAF member employees who might benefit from such a session.

The guest speaker will be Quentin Le Hetet (GIPA UK).  Quentin is an aftermarket expert who has managed numerous aftersales market intelligence projects in the UK. He will draw on GiPA’s 30 years international experience in automotive aftersales intelligence to provide insightful analysis of how the industry is moving.

Quentin will be presenting two key topics that are relevant to our industry and its future:

– What will be the impact of extending the MOT period to four years on the UK automotive aftermarket?
– What is the future of parts distribution in the UK?

Further meetings will be held throughout the year, with next one being in Milton Keynes on Thursday 25th May.  To book for the second meeting, please email Ann Silvester at the IAAF.

For more information about this and future meetings, please contact Mike Smallbone directly on 07584 136970 or msmallbone@iaaf.co.uk.

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Counterfeit SKF bearings seized in West Yorkshire raid

SKF has participated in a raid against a company trading counterfeit bearings in the West Yorkshire area.

A raid, led by members of the West Yorkshire Trading Standards authority alongside staff from SKF’s Brand Protection Team, has resulted in the seizure of counterfeit bearings which otherwise could have been sold on to unsuspecting industrial customers and end-users. Several thousands of bearings, of more than 170 different types and sizes were seized, with an estimated total weight of 1.5 tons. A wide range of products was seized, including items used in automotive applications as well as industrial machinery.

During the raid, SKF learned that counterfeit goods had been sold on to many customers in the UK by the non-authorised distributor. Bearings from other brands, allegedly sourced from the same suppliers as the counterfeit SKF products, are also suspected to be non-genuine.

Every year, SKF’s Brand Protection Team participates in more than 100 raids against retailers, distributors and manufacturers of counterfeit products across all continents.

Saim Manto, Brand Protection Manager, SKF Group Brand Protection, says: “Counterfeit industrial products are present in all markets across the globe and we see cases from across all sectors, from power generation to high-performance motorbikes. Just this year, in Europe alone, we have pursued counterfeit cases in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Poland.”

The financial damage to dealers resulting from the sale of counterfeit products is difficult to quantify. However, lost sales and reputational damage are very likely outcomes for those dealers who are involved in this illegal trade.

Paul Dysiewicz, SKF’s Engineering Manager, says: “Counterfeit industrial products like bearings are still a major concern for our UK customers who purchase them in good faith, believing them to be the genuine article. Customers who accidentally purchase counterfeit products are being cheated financially, risk damage to their machinery and incur expensive downtime as a result. They may also be liable to third party damages. We always recommend that, in order to safeguard authenticity, customers carefully select their supplier and always source their SKF bearings from trusted, authorised distributors.”

SKF has made significant efforts to increase market awareness of the existence of counterfeit bearings and the related risks for users. Distinguishing a counterfeit bearing from an authentic SKF bearing often requires expertise. Customers that suspect they might have been sold counterfeit products should use the SKF Authenticate app for smartphones to take and send photos of suspect products directly to SKF for verification. The app can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play. They can also e-mail pictures of the suspected bearings to genuine@skf.com.

All premium brands are affected by counterfeit products. SKF, along with other bearing manufacturers affected by counterfeiting, are working to fight against this problem and have launched a counterfeit awareness campaign through the umbrella organisation, World Bearing Association (WBA). The campaign aims to make customers aware of the risks and problems with counterfeits. More information can be found at www.stopfakebearings.com.

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Mercedes to recall 75,000 UK cars over fire risk

Cars made between 2015 and 2017 may be affected with problem starter components that overheat

Daimler is to recall around 75,000 Mercedes-Benz cars in the UK and one million cars worldwide after around 50 fires were reported.

No injuries or deaths have yet been recorded.

The fault is reported to affect the fuse in some of its A, B, C, and E-class cars as well as its CLA, GLA and GLC vehicles and could cause them to overheat when starting the car.

A fix has been implemented in the production of new vehicles and for cars already currently on dealer forecourts.

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PSA Group confirms £1.13 billion acquisition of Vauxhall/Opel

PSA Group has now confirmed that it will acquire Vauxhall/Opel from General Motors for €1.3 billion (£1.13bn).

With the addition of Vauxhall/Opel, which generated revenue of €17.7bn (£15.33bn) in 2016, PSA will become the second-largest automotive company in Europe – behind Volkswagen Group – with a 17% market share.

The deal will also see GM Financial’s European operation join the PSA Group for a further €0.9bn (£0.78bn).

Carlos Tavares, chairman of the managing board of PSA, said: “We are proud to join forces with Opel/Vauxhall and are deeply committed to continuing to develop this great company and accelerating its turnaround.

“We respect all that Opel/Vauxhall’s talented people have achieved as well as the company’s fine brands and strong heritage.

“We intend to manage PSA and Opel/Vauxhall capitalising on their respective brand identities.

“Having already created together winning products for the European market, we know that Opel/Vauxhall is the right partner. We see this as a natural extension of our relationship and are eager to take it to the next level.”

Tavares added: “We are confident that the Opel/Vauxhall turnaround will significantly accelerate with our support, while respecting the commitments made by GM to the Opel/Vauxhall employees.”

Mary T. Barra, GM chairman and chief executive officer, added: “We believe this new chapter puts Opel and Vauxhall in an even stronger position for the long term and we look forward to our participation in the future success and strong value-creation potential of PSA through our economic interest and continued collaboration on current and exciting new projects.”

A joint statement released by GM and PSA Group said the transaction will allow substantial economies of scale and synergies in purchasing, manufacturing and R&D.

Annual synergies of €1.7bn (£1.47bn) are expected by 2026 – of which a significant part is expected to be delivered by 2020, accelerating Opel/Vauxhall’s turnaround.

Leveraging the successful partnership with GM, PSA expects Opel/Vauxhall to reach a recurring operating margin of 2% by 2020 and 6% by 2026, and to generate a positive operational free cash flow by 2020.

PSA, together with BNP Paribas, will also acquire all of GM Financial’s European operations through a newly formed 50%/50% joint venture that will retain GM Financial’s current European platform and team.

This joint venture will be fully consolidated by BNP Paribas and accounted under the equity method by PSA.

The transaction is another step in GM’s ongoing work to transform the company, which has delivered three years of record performance and a strong 2017 outlook, and returned significant capital to shareholders.

GM and PSA also expect to collaborate in the further deployment of electrification technologies and existing supply agreements for Holden and certain Buick models will continue, and PSA may potentially source long-term supply of fuel cell systems from the GM/Honda joint venture.

The transaction includes all of Opel/Vauxhall’s automotive operations, comprising Opel and Vauxhall brands, six assembly and five component-manufacturing facilities, one engineering center (Rüsselsheim) and approximately 40,000 employees. GM will retain the engineering centre in Torino, Italy.

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Dingbro partners with Smart Garage Solutions to offer garages in Scotland with a Personalised Customer Video solution

Following a successful customer trial of My Service Trust in 2016, Scotland’s largest independent motor factoring group, Dingbro, has partnered with Smart Garage Solutions to provide their network of 1,000 garage workshops with access to the latest software and technology to create, review and send HD quality personalised customer videos.

Since 1973, Dingbro has become synonymous with excellence in the field of automotive component distribution. With over 1,300 employees in 26 sites throughout Scotland, Dingbro is Scotland’s largest independent motor factoring group servicing an area from Shetland and the Faroe Islands down to the Scottish borders. Dingbro is also a member of the Parts Alliance which further enhances its service.

The My Service Trust product, developed by Yorkshire-based Smart Garage Solutions, is used by garage technicians to highlight any urgent or advisory works that need carrying out on a vehicle following a service or MOT. The product enables technicians to show the legitimacy of repair works and breakdown technical boundaries. Dingbro’s team of sales agents are out covering the length and breadth of Scotland, from the Central Belt and Borders in the South, to Caithness in the North, visiting customers to raise awareness of the My Service Trust product, it’s key benefits and how garages can sign up to start taking advantage of video today.

Ben Smith, Director of Smart Garage Solutions said: “We were introduced to Duncan and Dingbro through the Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAFF) who we are proud members of and this is a great example of how the network is producing exciting new business development opportunities for us. We are absolutely delighted to be partnering up with Dingbro, providing the network of garages they supply with enhanced customer service through the use of personalised customer videos. We are also confident My Service Trust will lead to increased parts sales for Dingbro and look forward to working with Duncan and the team, supplementing the range of expertise and support that is available to garages across Scotland.”

Duncan Davidson, Customer Programmes Consultant, Dingbro

Duncan Davidson, customer programmes consultant at Dingbro said: “We are delighted to welcome Smart Garage Solutions as a partner of Dingbro and we are looking forward to working with them for the benefit of our customers. Feedback from the trial of My Service Trust has been fantastic! Customers report back that they really appreciate the video, as it has helped them understand an issue with their car, making it much quicker and easier to authorise any urgent or advisory repair work.

“Innovations like this are just what the sector needs right now, it helps independent garages meet customer expectations as we all rely on digital technology and our mobile phones more and more in our everyday lives.”
Robert Brownlie, owner of Ace Motoring Services Ltd in Fife was one of the garages who took part in the trial and he had the following to say about My Service Trust: “We find these videos a great way to build trust with our customers, whilst making us look very professional and helping us to stand out from the rest. Getting authorisation for additional work is almost guaranteed, because our customers can see at first hand just how worn, broken or dangerous an item attached to their very own vehicle actually is!”

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Truck manufacturers call for action to prevent aftermarket manipulation of emissions controls

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has condemned the advertising, sale and use of any aftermarket device that can be used by truck operators to turn off emission control systems.

The key NOx reduction technology for trucks is Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR), which requires the controlled dosing of a diesel exhaust fluid called AdBlue to enable effective NOx reduction.

Recent reports have shown that ‘AdBlue emulator’ devices are being installed by truck operators in order to by-pass or stop the AdBlue injection system.

If there is no AdBlue injection, there will be no NOx reduction in the SCR. This saves truck operators the cost of AdBlue refills at the environmental expense of higher NOx emissions. The truck operator may also qualify for lower motorway taxes or other benefits by officially running a Euro VI truck, which in practice will not be operating as it was designed to, because the truck operator chose to fit one of these devices.

There are many websites of suppliers and marketers offering such devices, in several EU member states and also outside the European Union, at a range of prices and capabilities.

ACEA had already raised its concerns in 2012 with the European Commission and the member states, but no action was taken. The issue of aftermarket devices was also raised by Denmark several years earlier, but the general view at that time was that this should be a matter for national enforcement.

ACEA is now calling on the European Commission and member states to:

Ban the advertising and sale of any aftermarket device (hardware or software) that can by-pass vehicle emission control systems or enable the removal of important parts of the emission control system.

Apply random road-side enforcement by police who are authorised to stop and check vehicles, so that truck operators are aware that if they are caught using one of these devices they will face a substantial fine, or their vehicle will be treated in the same way as if vehicle safety systems were defective.

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Roadlink reveals remanufacturing success one year on

Roadlink International is celebrating the one year anniversary of the launch of its brand new commercial vehicle (CV) caliper remanufacturing facility, revealing a significant increase in demand.

The new facility in Willenhall, West Midlands, was officially opened by Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) chief executive, Mike Hawes on Monday 14 March 2016 with more than 50 dignitaries from the trade and local area in attendance.

The new CV brake calliper remanufacturing facility at Roadlink International, Strawberry Lane, Willenhall

Since the £700k investment, Roadlink has had a busy year with its larger facility, advanced equipment and increase in staff allowing the CV supplier to remanufacture calipers at a faster rate without compromising quality.

Roadlink’s distribution and remanufacturing processes are audited and approved to ISO9001 international standards, together with ISO14001 and its ‘Investor in People’ status, demonstrating its commitment to delivering a first-class range and service, from production right through to sales.

Keith Sedgley, Roadlink joint managing director, said: “It has been a busy and successful year with our new facility allowing us to meet the continuing increase in demand for remanufactured calipers. The CV parts trade recognises the beneficial impact of using remanufactured parts and we are keen to promote the process to the wider market.

“The investment has secured our status as a CV caliper remanufacturing leader, enabling us to carry out the labour-intensive reman process in an efficient manner while ensuring quality and traceability. All of our remanufactured calipers are restored back to their original quality after undergoing a series of strict tests and procedures, offering customers considerable savings.”

As one of the leading suppliers of parts for commercial vehicles, Roadlink currently offers a complete range of new and remanufactured braking solutions, including calipers and brake shoes as well as an extensive range of pads, discs and drums.

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Tyre safety systems cause concern

More than 23,000 vehicles required an MOT retest following identification of tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) issues in 2016 – a rise of 212% on the previous year.

TyreSafe, the body set up to promote tyre safety and driver awareness, has aired its concern at the implications for road safety of skyrocketing MOT failure rates caused by defects with vehicles’ TPMS. In 2015, a little over 7,000 MOT retests were required for the issue.

Stuart Jackson, TyreSafe chairman, said, ‘TPMS adds significantly to general tyre safety making it easy for the driver to know if their pressures aren’t at the right level when out on the road. But, clearly, even though Britain’s motorists are being warned there’s a safety issue they’re choosing to ignore it. Regrettably, this leap in MOT failures due to TPMS defects underlines that a poor attitude to tyre safety is not an issue exclusively associated with older vehicles.

‘TyreSafe urges motorists to put tyre safety higher up their list of driving priorities and check their tyres and TPMS are in roadworthy condition.’

TPMS became mandatory on all new passenger vehicles sold after 1 November 2014 as a safety feature to help reduce the number of vehicles being driven with tyre pressures significantly below the recommended settings. As of 1 January 2015, all vehicles first used after 1 January 2012 and equipped with a TPMS by the manufacturer must have a functioning system to pass its MOT.

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