SMPE secures agreement to supply iconic Lucas brand

Standard Motor Products Europe (SMPE), one of the UK’s largest independently owned automotive parts manufacturers and suppliers, has secured the rights to supply its engine management programme under the iconic Lucas brand.

Under the new licence agreement, SMPE will export the Lucas brand programme to develop and grow sales in Europe, outside of UK and Eire. The Lucas brand will also reach the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Russia.

SMPE’s Head Office and Engineering Facility

The new-look Lucas product line-up will feature key engine management ranges including ignition coils, cam/crank sensors, air mass meters, lead sets, coolant temp sensors and oil pressure switches, engineered by SMPE in the UK.

From its East Midlands home, SMPE has successfully established a thriving export business and so the addition of the Lucas brand, built on an impressive heritage of over 140 years in the automotive industry, will fully complement its strategy of widening its reach on a global scale.

SMPE were also the principal suppliers of Lucas branded engine management during the 1990s, which included caps, rotor arms, contact sets and condensers.

Richard Morley, SMPE Commercial Director, said: “We have some very ambitious plans to grow the Lucas brand and significantly increase its global reach. With 50 years expertise in developing, producing and supplying high quality products and brands to international markets, SMPE is the perfect partner to develop the Lucas brand for many years to come.

“It is also a reflection of our confidence in – and commitment to – the independent automotive aftermarket. It means we can further boost our product engineering and stay ahead of the market with a truly world-class proposition to customers.”

The OE matching quality parts supplier will also be working closely with other Lucas licence holders of complementary product programmes.

In 2018, SMPE is celebrating 50 years in business. The company offers one of the strongest OE matching quality European aftermarket engine management programmes available, through its commitment to quality and performance, underpinned by its ISO 9001:2015 accreditation.

Your Comments

Scrapped MOT proposals welcomed by IAAF

Proposed changes to the MOT test frequency have been scrapped with IAAF calling it ‘a triumph for the aftermarket and motorists alike’, after months and months of intensive lobbying.

Since the proposals were first announced back in 2015, the IAAF has reacted angrily to extending the frequency of a vehicle’s first MOT test from three years to four years, lobbying the government on reversing any such proposals and stating that the current test frequency is both safer and more cost effective for motorists.

IAAF chief executive, Wendy Williamson, voiced a number of concerns, highlighting the potential dangers to extend the MOT test from three years to four. It was argued that the change could lead to an increase in road accidents and fatalities as there would be no formal inspection of a vehicle’s road worthiness for a further 12 months. It could also mean an increase in repair costs for drivers, insurance premiums and harmful emissions.

Wendy Williamson, IAAF Chief Executive

In recent years, the MOT testing frequency has been subject to much debate. The IAAF’s stance has always been that DVSA’s regulation of the MOT process and current testing frequency of 3:1:1 helps to make UK roads the safest in Europe.

The federation has worked relentlessly alongside other industry bodies to fight the unwelcome legislation and is part of the ProMOTe campaign being run by the AALG (Automotive Aftermarket Liaison Group) to protect the safety of all road users.

Williamson said: “It is an understatement to say that we are delighted that these plans have now been scrapped, which comes as a result of all the hard efforts of IAAF as well as the whole of the industry. From the outset, we’ve vigorously fought these proposals, which threatened not just the aftermarket but more crucially, motorists’ safety.

“To ensure as safe and cost-effective motoring as possible, motorists must have their vehicle inspected and serviced regularly. Given that figures suggest one in five vehicles fail their MOT in the first three years, moving to an extended testing period would have potentially caused more accidents and fatalities due to defective vehicles on UK roads.”

Your Comments

Preparing for GDPR – undertaking an information audit

Lawgistics, the IAAF’s legal helpline provider, are running a series of articles to help businesses prepare for the introduction of the new GDPR which comes into force in May, by which time every business will need to be compliant.

The UK’s own new Data Protection Act 2018 is still under debate in the House of Lords. This new Act will consolidate and add to each businesses responsibilities, which are already set out in the European GDPR  but regardless of what is to be included in the UK Act, businesses will still need to be GDPR compliant under the European GDPR as of 25 May 2018.

Any business already working on compliance will of course be ahead of the game. However, anyone reading this and who has been avoiding GDPR or thinks it doesn’t apply to their business, then they will need to have a rethink.

Firstly, the business will need to undertake an information audit. Every business will almost certainly use people’s personal data (writing a customer’s name on an invoice is use of personal data) and for GDPR purposes, the person entering that data is seen as a Data Controller.

Under GDPR, a Data Controller is the organisation which collects and uses the personal data. The first two steps to be taken are to:

  1. List what type of data held
  2. Ascertain the legal basis for the use of that data.

The audit doesn’t have to be sophisticated, it could be as simple as:

Type of data – customers details on invoices
Legal basis for using this data – necessary for performance of a contract, compliance of a legal obligation (keeping accurate records for HMRC)

Type of data – employee details
Legal basis for using this data – necessary for performance of a contract, compliance of a legal obligation (need to pay their tax, NI etc)

Type of data – customer emails and postal addresses for sending out MOT reminders
Legal basis for using this data – consent (more guidance on this area will be given in the next update) and, arguably, legitimate business interest (more on this in a future update).

In very simple terms, every business will use personal data, the starting point should be to list all types of data held and then to work out the legal basis for using it. Once this is done, a business will need to think about how that data is stored – physically and digitally.

Your Comments

NIC launches driverless car infrastructure competition

The National Infrastructure Commission has launched a competition looking for “Britain’s leading lights from across industry” to help ensure the country has roads fit for the future and ready for driverless cars.

Launched with Highways England and Innovate UK, the competition will seek ideas for making the UK road network ready for connected and autonomous vehicles – including using the latest technology.

It will look for ideas as to how existing infrastructure can be adapted, how roads shared by driverless and driven vehicles can work, and how these changes can be introduced alongside charging networks for new electric cars.

It will also be looking for ideas that can work on different types of roads, whether a residential avenue, a high street or a motorway.

Entries will be judged by an expert panel, brought together from across industry, academia, regional government and the public sector.

Plans for a Roads for the Future competition were announced as part of the Chancellor’s Budget statement in November.

Those wishing to enter have two months in which to submit their ideas, which should follow three broad themes:

  1. The design of roads and related infrastructure – how will existing roads need to be adapted to meet the needs of new driverless cars?
  2. Traffic management – how will key features such as traffic lights and other methods of traffic control need to adapt to meet the needs of different vehicle types?; and
  3. Road rules and regulations – how should current restrictions, for example speed limits, and parking and loading rules, be updated for this new environment?

The competition jury will select the five best entries to go through to a second round, with each of these given up to £30,000 to develop their ideas further over a three-month period. The winning entry will then be announced later this year.

Your Comments

Ford to boost investment in electric cars by 2022

Ford says it will boost its investment in electric vehicles to $11bn (£8bn) in the next five years, more than doubling a previous commitment.

Chairman Bill Ford said the car maker would have 40 hybrid and fully electric vehicles in its range by 2022.

Speaking at the Detroit Auto Show on Sunday, Mr Ford said the focus would be on electrifying existing Ford models without naming any specific cars.

He said the firm would offer 16 fully electric vehicles by 2022 and 24 plug-in hybrids.

Mr Ford told reporters: “We’re all in on this and we’re taking our mainstream vehicles, our most iconic vehicles, and we’re electrifying them.

“If we want to be successful with electrification, we have to do it with vehicles that are already popular.”

Last year, General Motors in the US said it would add 20 new battery electric and fuel cell vehicles to its range by 2023, whilst Volkswagen said in November it would spend $40bn on electric cars, autonomous driving and new mobility services by the end of 2022 – doubling a previous commitment.

Ford’s $11bn investment pledge is much higher than a previously announced target of $4.5bn by 2020 and was spearheaded by new chief executive Jim Hackett.

During the Detroit show, Ford teased the release of its first performance electric vehicle – the Mach 1 – without giving any details about how it would look or its spec.

The SUV will be inspired by a Mustang sports car of the same name, made in the 1960s and 70s, and will be released in 2020.

Your Comments

Fuel cell trucks trialled by UPS

UPS is beginning to trial medium-duty fuel cell trucks in the US in an attempt to match the range of its conventionally-fuelled vehicles.

Working with the US Department of Energy, the trial will involve Class 6 vehicles using an on-board fuel cell to generate electricity as a part of UPS’ Rolling Laboratory fleet. Each vehicle will be capable of 125 miles, with a 32kW fuel cell fed by a 10kg hydrogen load. 45kWh of battery storage delivers power to the wheels, with the trial covering a minimum of 5,000 miles.

Mark Wallace, UPS Senior Vice President of Global Engineering and Sustainability commented, “The challenge we face with fuel cell technology is to ensure the design can meet the unique operational demands of our delivery vehicles on a commercial scale. This project is an essential step to test the zero tailpipe emissions technology and vehicle on the road for UPS and the transportation industry.

“We have a long history of developing and promoting the use of more sustainable alternative fuels with our Rolling Laboratory, and hope that by bringing our unique expertise to the development of hydrogen fuels, we can help advance the technology.”

Your Comments

New appointment at Osram UK

Leading global lighting manufacturer OSRAM have appointed Keith Booth as Account Manager for the Specialty Products Automotive Aftermarket division of OSRAM Ltd in the UK.

Keith Booth

Keith previously worked for Cromwell Group (Holdings) Ltd and joins OSRAM with a wealth of knowledge and sales expertise in the Aftermarket. “We welcome Keith to the OSRAM team and look forward to his positive contribution for our independent and buying group customers” said John Lancaster, SP Business Unit Manager at OSRAM.

Commenting on his new appointment, Keith said: “We all have our apprehensions when joining a new company but these soon disappeared as I quickly learnt that OSRAM is a community of hardworking and helpful people. OSRAM is known and trusted globally and this is because the products are innovative and educating”. Keith will be working with independent aftermarket accounts across the UK.

Your Comments

Visitor registration now open for CV Show

The CV Show, the UK’s biggest event for the road transport, distribution and logistics industries, is now open for visitor registration at the official website

Taking place at the NEC in Birmingham from 24-26 April, show attendance has already been confirmed by a number of leading names in the industry; including truck, van and trailer manufacturers, insurers, tyre companies, telematics, training providers, fuel and lubricant suppliers.

In 2017, the CV Show exceeded 20,000 visitors and this year’s show retains the larger floorplan to accommodate the rising numbers of exhibitors and visitors. Full information for visitors is available on the CV Show website, including the stand floorplan, exhibitor list and product locators.

Returning for 2018 will be the popular Innovation Hub and Twitter walls, while the Workshop and Cool zones will also feature again, bringing the latest innovations in workshop logistics and temperature-controlled goods management.

CV Show Director, Rob Skelton, said: “Once more the CV Show is providing the best opportunity of the year for visitors to meet all of their sourcing needs under one roof. From truck, van and trailer manufacturers through to ancillary service providers, there is no better business-to-business environment for any individual or company involved in the road transport industry.

“The bigger show area in 2017 was a huge hit and saw over 400 exhibitors and more than 20,000 visitors yet again. To get the most from the event and all the latest information we encourage visitors to register now for a free entry pass, ensuring they receive important updates in the run-up to the event.”

Your Comments

Updated ACAS advice and Minimum Wage increases

Updated ACAS guide on sexual harassment

ACAS (Advice, Conciliatory and Advocacy Service) has published an updated guidance on dealing with issues of sexual harassment in the workplace. The guide can be accessed at:

ACAS – guide to sexual harrassment

Although the guidance does not have the same force as a statutory code, it gives a good summary of the positions of the employer and the employee, and refers to what would be reasonably expected of the employer if a complaint is raised.

Minimum wage increases

From the 01 April 2018 the minimum wage will increase to the below:

25 & Over 21-24 18-20 Under 18 Apprentice
2017 £7.50 £7.05 £5.60 £4.05 £3.50
2018 £7.83 £7.38 £5.90 £4.20 £3.70

Your Comments

Carillion Insolvency – Customer Information

The recent news that the Carillion Group has been placed in compulsory liquidation will no doubt have ongoing implications for many suppliers in the coming weeks and may impact on distributors/suppliers in the automotive sector, supporting the many facets of their business.

Price Waterhouse Cooper have been appointed as special managers to support the liquidator during this period and the following may be of interest if you know or think you may be affected by the situation.

PwC are now providing information via their website The homepage provides a link to the latest information on the insolvency. This link will take you to specific information relating to suppliers.

Current PwC feedback is as follows:

  • The Companies are continuing to trade.
  • Unless advised otherwise, all agents, subcontractors and suppliers should continue to work and provide goods and services as normal, under their existing contracts, terms and conditions.
  • Payment will be made for goods and services supplied from 15 January 2018.
  • Over the coming days PwC will review supplier contracts and will make contact concerning these soon. Goods and services supplied during the liquidation will be paid for.
  • A letter will be sent to suppliers shortly containing further instructions. In the first instance, please speak to your usual contact at the Companies. Matters requiring the specific attention of the Special Managers can be sent to:

Your Comments