Wendy Williamson delivers keynote speech on the future of the automotive aftermarket

Wendy Williamson, chief executive of the Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF), has provided an extensive insight into the future of the automotive aftermarket in a speech delivered to a packed audience at the Aftermarket Theatre, Automechanika Birmingham 2018.

In her speech, which covered the changing face of UK parts distribution, legislation and future connectivity, Williamson also looked at how lifestyle changes will affect the trade in the future.

The speech revisited Type Approval, an ongoing theme of IAAF’s lobbying activities for the past three years. Williamson said IAAF has “fought hard to ensure a number of key amendments were included in the final legislation,” which was approved last month by the European Parliament.

Williamson paid tribute to MEP Daniel Dalton who was instrumental in getting the legislation through the EU Commission, Council and Parliament. She said: “Daniel took the time and trouble to understand our sector in great detail and ensure that our viewpoint was taken into consideration.”

Brexit was also a factor in the speech, and the stark reminder of the challenges and confusion this may bring. Williamson reminded delegates that all EU legislation will be adopted in the UK as of March next year, but as Type Approval legislation doesn’t take effect until September 2020, “it now throws up a question of where this legislation now sits.”

The technological changes in vehicles was also discussed and Williamson said it was imperative for parts suppliers and distributors to ensure they have access to accurate information to supply and fit the correct part.

Underlining the rate of technological changes, Williamson showed two videos looking at autonomous vehicles and how vehicle manufacturers are prepared for this lifestyle change. “The big challenge with autonomous vehicles,” she said, “will be access to information to repair these vehicles.”

In a speech there was also some key information on the rise of new technologies such as electric vehicles and challenges regarding emissions. “The aftermarket has been relatively slow to respond to some of the newer technologies, but many independent garages are ‘gearing up’ to embrace the hybrid vehicle parc.”

Driving all these changes is lifestyle and consumer expectations Williamson said: “Ownership of vehicles will change; renting vehicles by the day or even the hour will become more popular, particular among the younger generation.”

The YourCarYourChoice campaign was also highlighted, as it continues to gather momentum as the number of supporting companies increases.

In closing, Williamson said: “We as a sector need to ensure we keep up to date with the times. “We must continue to invest in tools, equipment, people and of course training to ensure we’re able to cope with the myriad of changes that are taking place in the automotive industry. We have a reputation for finding a way through – the threats are more complex but we’re certainly up for the challenge.”

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New car registrations rise 3.4% in May

The UK new car market grew by 3.4% in May with 192,649 new units registered.

The growth followed a -8.5% decline in the previous May when demand was impacted by VED changes and buyer hesitancy ahead of June 2017’s general election.

It was another tough time for diesel sales, which fell for the 14th consecutive month, down -23.6%, according to figures from the SMMT.

Demand for hybrid and plug-in cars grew by 36.1% to 11,240 units, accounting for a record 5.8% of the market.

Plug-in hybrid cars were the biggest driver of growth, up 72.7%, while hybrids rose 22.6% and zero emission battery electrics grew 18.7%. Registrations of petrol cars also increased, by 23.5%.

Private demand in the month grew by 10.1%, offsetting ongoing declines in the business and fleet sectors, down -9.6% and -0.7% respectively.

In the year to date, the overall market remains down, with new registrations having fallen -6.8%, as economic and political uncertainty continues to impact demand.

Business and fleet confidence, in particular, continues to lag, down -16.2% and -7.1% respectively, while demand from private buyers in the first five months is -5.7% behind 2017 levels.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “May’s growth, albeit on the back of large declines last year, is encouraging and suggests the market is now starting to return to a more natural running rate.

“To ensure long-term stability, we need to avoid any further disruption to the market, and this will require sustainable policies that give consumers and businesses the confidence to invest in the new cars that best suit their needs.

“Fleet renewal is the fastest way to improve air quality and reduce CO2, and this applies to hybrid and plug-in technologies as well as the latest low emission petrol and diesels which, for many drivers, remain the right choice economically and environmentally.”

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Garage of the Year 2018 winner announced at Automechanika Birmingham

Automechanika Birmingham, in partnership with Garage Wire, has named Hillclimb Garage as ‘Garage of the Year’ for 2018, with the High Wycombe-based workshop picking up the prize of £1000.

Hillclimb was up against five other finalists, all of whom had been chosen from 38 shortlisted contenders across six categories and announced at a special evening dinner held in the Director’s Lounge, Aston Villa Football Club on Tuesday 5 June.

The winning garage won the battle for top spot after much deliberation by the judging panel, James Onions (Garage Wire), Andy Savva (The Garage Inspector), Stuart James (Independent Garage Association) and Simon Albert (Automechanika Birmingham).

The winners of the six categories were:

Best Large GarageD&D Autos (Ashford) Ltd
Best Small GarageHillclimb Garage
Auto-mechanik of the YearMarcin Chilpala – Lindleys Autocentres
Technology InnovationBee Cool ACS
Business InnovationIn-Town Automotive
Best Community InitiativeThe Garage (Whitburn) Ltd

Nicola Wakeling, owner of Hillclimb Garage, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be the winners of ‘Garage of the Year’ at Automechanika Birmingham 2018.

“When we started the business, we wanted to do things differently. Our philosophy has always been to put the customer first and offer customers expertise, transparency and most importantly trust.

“This year’s show has been fantastic, particularly with the increased offering for garages – it has been great to see such a high number of technicians and garage owners all taking time out from their businesses to experience the opportunities such a show offers.”

The Buckinghamshire workshop, an established family business, offers a range of benefits to the local community and customers further afield, all of which helped it to secure the win. These include MOTs, which can be booked online, a wide range of approved used cars, a valeting service available six days a week and, a service department offering a full video report and free health check for customers’ cars.

Simon Albert, managing director of Automechanika Birmingham, said: “We were overwhelmed by the number of entries and the quality businesses that entered made it difficult for us to narrow it down to just six finalists.

“After much deliberation by the judging panel, Hillclimb is a well-deserved winner. The business’ entrepreneurial drive, impressive customer-friendly
website, willingness to invest in new equipment and commitment to delivering first-class customer service helped the garage secure the award. Many congratulations to the team.”

The GOTY event was sponsored by the Independent Garage Association, Elta, EDT, AA Garage Guide, Autologic, Launch UK and The Parts Alliance, with Hillclimb being presented with the prize cheque of £1000 during the show on Wednesday, after being announced the winner.

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HR Update on Sick Notes from Lawgistics

Employees can self-certificate themselves as sick for up to seven days. However, if an employee is sick beyond seven days (including non working days), an employer can request a fit note (often known as a sick note) from a doctor.

If the note indicates that the employee “may be able to work”, the employer will need to discuss with the employee any possible adjustments in the workplace to enable them to return. However, the employer must be mindful of health and safety. If it is not possible to have the employee return with reasonable adjustments or if they might cause a health and safety hazard, then the employer can insist on full recovery before the employee is allowed to return.

However, if the employee does not provide a sick note, it will be deemed as unauthorised absence and the employer may be entitled to withhold contractual pay (if applicable – check contract) or statutory sick pay (SSP).

The employer is entitled to reasonable information to determine if the employee is entitled to SSP; if the employee provides a good reason for not providing a note, the employer can pay; however, if the employer is not satisfied that the employee is actually ill and no evidence has been provided, payment can be withheld.
The employer should write to the employee. The letter should include the absence policy, if applicable, and confirming that sick pay will be withheld if no note/evidence is received. The absence will be deemed as unauthorised and the employee may be subject to disciplinary action. Should the employee respond with evidence, pay should be back dated and paid.

If the employee is off work for more than a 4-week period, this will be deemed as long-term sick; however, their contractual benefits and annual leave will still accrue. Dismissing employees who are on long-term sick should be deemed as a last resort. Employers should firstly consider any adjustments, whether these are short terms or long term. This could be a change of hours or a different job role. Consultation with the employee and health professionals should also be undertaken.

If an employee is on annual leave and falls ill, this may be deemed to be sick days rather than annual leave.

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European businesses advised to avoid using British parts ahead of Brexit

European governments are advising businesses not to use British parts in goods for export ahead of Brexit, Sky News has established.

In its advice rolled out to all Dutch businesses, the Dutch government has told its exporters that “if a large part of your product consists of parts from the UK” domestic exporters may lose free trade access under existing deals.

The advice says: “Brexit will have consequences for exports outside the EU.

“After Brexit, parts made in the UK no longer count towards this minimum production in the European Union.”

This is a reference to what are known as “rules of origin” and “local content” under international trade rules.

In order to qualify for EU free trade deals, a certain proportion, typically 55% of a product’s parts, needs to come from the EU.

The Dutch government says UK parts “no longer count towards EU origin” in its official “Brexit impact scan” advice to Dutch businesses.

That warning has also been underpinned by the EU’s own technical notice on this issue.

“As of withdrawal date, the UK becomes a third country. UK inputs are considered ‘non-originating’,” it says.

Smaller companies are also being hit.

The government hopes that an implementation phase will deal with the problem until the end of 2020, but that depends on the response by third countries to the EU asking them to keep the same rules.

The EU will not write to those countries until the withdrawal deal is signed.

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New Vehicle Type-Approval Regulation: Implementation of new provision on spare parts identification – Call for nominations of experts

The new Vehicle Type-Approval Framework Regulation was adopted by formal vote of the Council on 22nd May 2018, and the new adopted text includes the provision of Annex X, Point 6.1 (see below), which provides that ‘parts identification information shall be made available in the form of machine readable and electronically processable datasets’.

The new Regulation will apply with effect from 1st September 2020. In view of this date, it was decided to create a CLEPA/FIGIEFA Working Group on the matter in order to identify how to implement this new provision and what will be needed in order to optimise the FIGIEFA spare parts catalogue creation.

FIGIEFA is therefore calling for the nomination of experts (a maximum of 3 experts per member association) who are familiar with cataloguing procedures. If you are interested in contributing to this Working Group, please contact the IAAF Office no later than Friday 22nd June 2018. Those who are interested must be committed/available to participate/contribute in the Working Group, throughout the coming months.

Once the experts have been nominated, they will be advised of the proposed dates for the first meeting.

Annex X, Point 6.1
“Information on all parts of the vehicle, with which the vehicle, as identified by the VIN and any additional criteria such as wheelbase, engine output, trim level or options, is equipped by the vehicle manufacturer and that can be replaced by spare parts offered by the vehicle manufacturer to its authorised repairers or dealers or third parties by means of reference to original equipment (OE) parts number, shall be made available, in the form of machine readable and electronically processable datasets, in a database that is easily accessible to independent operators.”

(the underlined text is new)

WAI reaches national agreement with Marathon Warehouse Distribution

WAIglobal has reached a national distribution agreement with Marathon Warehouse Distribution to supply a full range of WAI branded products to motor factors on frequent a same day delivery service through Marathon’s expanding distribution centre network.

As part of the new agreement, Marathon’s 14 branch network will stock WAI’s 2500 starter motors and alternators, clutch pulleys, 400+ ignition coils,121 MAF sensors, 56 wiper motors and 2800 window regulators.

Marathon’s logistics platform is now capable of offering motor factors a frequent same day service to areas accounting for 85 percent of the total UK population.

WAI customer stock orders will continue to be supplied through the company’s Bognor Regis warehouse on a next day delivery service, but with the implementation of the same day service, it will bring WAI even closer to the motor factor and ensure immediate access to ‘grey tail’ products.

Richard Welland, WAIglobal UK managing director (pictured above on the left with Colin Fisher of  MWD), said: “There’s no denying the UK automotive aftermarket is changing at an alarming rate. In the past few years, we have worked to bring the WAI brand closer to motor factors and garages, meeting their demand for an almost instant parts supply.

“The growing complexity of the vehicle parc means that motor factors have to stock a wider range of products to suitably cover customer demand. The best way to meet this demand is with a same day supply of a full range of WAI products and Marathon Warehouse Distribution is the perfect vehicle for us to achieve this.”

Marathon branches are strategically located to cover most key UK conurbations and offer a service to motor factors of up to 8 times a day. The expanding distribution centre network is supported by a national distribution centre situated in Redditch, West Midlands.

Colin Fisher, Marathon Warehouse Distribution sales and marketing director, said: “The ambition of WAI matches our own and we’re delighted to be stocking the widest range of WAI products and supplying the brand to motor factors on a frequent same day basis. We’re an independent national warehouse distributor and our logistics platform has to be able to offer motor factor customers a full range of high quality products both quickly and efficiently.”

On news of the agreement, WAI is delighted to announce a significant range extension, launch of new MAF sensors and revamped coils range and, a new initiative in the rotating electrics market. More details will be released shortly.

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Digraph appoints new Chief Executive Officer

The UK’s fastest growing commercial vehicle motor factor business, Digraph, has announced the appointment of Sukhbir Kapoor as Chief Executive Officer. As CEO of Digraph, Sukhbir will strengthen the existing management team while overseeing its ambitious growth strategy.

Sukhbir brings with him a wealth of automotive industry and commercial experience. He has been instrumental in growing the Euro Car Parts network to over 300 branches, having held several senior management positions within product & marketing, logistics, supply chain and branch operations. Prior to moving to the UK, Sukhbir’s career started at Gabriel, ArvinMeritor and latterly Federal Mogul Corporation based in India, Singapore and the USA.

Chairman of Digraph, Sukhpal Singh Ahluwalia, said: “Sukhbir is a key appointment in the future growth of Digraph. As a business, Digraph is renowned for its outstanding customer service and willingness to go the extra mile for customers. We are working hard to maintain this ethos while growing the business through existing industry connections and resource.

“Having observed Euro Car Parts’ success over the past 40 years, it is exciting to be able to deliver this experience and expertise to the commercial vehicle sector. I have every confidence that Sukhbir and the team at Digraph will continue to deliver the service it is known for, while reducing downtime, cutting costs and increasing efficiency for customers.”

Digraph will open 16 new branches in the next six months alone creating around 165 jobs. This will be in addition to several acquisitions of similar
businesses and expansion of existing branches.

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Automechanika Birmingham: last chance to book your ticket

The doors to Automechanika Birmingham 2018 are due open at 9.30 a.m. on Tuesday 5th June.

Among the initiatives set to drive this year’s event will be a raft of keynote presentations, panels, forums and seminars to name a few of the opportunities available, set to draw, inspire and motivate visitors attending the industry’s three-day showcase.

One major coup for the show this year is the Women in Innovation panel, a Who’s Who of industry’s key influencers, chaired by Dr. Julia E. Saini, Global Vice President of Frost & Sullivan. Other key ‘innovation’ highlights to look out for include:

Motorsport Valley® Innovation (feature)
Presented by the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA), sponsored by Staubli

Innovation Forum (Keynote Theatre, Wednesday 6 June)
“How the Automotive OEM and Tier 1 supply chain can increasingly benefit from the UK’s Motorsport Valley community”.

New for 2018 and sponsored by Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Network, this year’s event will host a dedicated area showcasing the UK’s capabilities with the latest technologies in connected and autonomous vehicles, electrification, ultra-low emissions and battery technology.

Tomorrow’s Mobility Forum (Keynote Theatre, Wednesday 6 June)
A panel of leaders from UK government-funded organisations will discuss the capabilities of the UK to be leaders in innovation, outlining the priorities for the industry and opportunities to access funding and support for innovation across the sector.

Visitor registration is free for the 3-day event and tickets can be booked online at www.automechanika-birmingham.com.

Germany rules in favour of diesel bans

German cities have been given the go-ahead to ban older diesel cars from their roads with immediate effect.

Vehicles up to and including Euro 5 can be restricted, with no grace period required.

The German federal government published its ruling last week, confirming diesel bans are legally possible and, in areas where it is the fastest route to reducing pollution, legally required.

It comes as Germany is referred to the EU’s highest court over its failure to tackle illegal pollution, according to limits that came in to force in 2010.

Environmental lawyers from ClientEarth and Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH worked together to bring the cases against Stuttgart and Duesseldorf.

ClientEarth clean air lawyer Ugo Taddei said: “This judgment makes it unavoidably clear – regional governments can and should put diesel restrictions in place where pollution is dangerously high.”

Lawyer Remo Klinger, who acted for DUH and ClientEarth, said: “Every regional court in Germany that was due to hear an air quality case has been waiting on today’s ruling. We now expect many of these cases will start to be heard and reach their conclusions. By Autumn, we will have developments in Stuttgart, Munich, Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, Darmstadt and Aachen. Others will follow in the coming weeks.”

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