Visitor registration goes live from January 2017

The countdown to the opening of Automechanika Birmingham 2017 is on, with online registration for the UK’s leading exhibition for the automotive aftermarket and supply chain available from January at www.automechanika-birmingham.com. The event offers key networking opportunities for all automotive industry professionals, hosting over 750 exhibitors at the NEC, from 6 to 8 June 2017.

The event will be even more impressive than the 2016 event, with the who’s who of the industry already signed up, including; Schaeffler, ZF, HELLA, Valeo, Liqui Moly, Euro Repar Car Service, Department for International Trade, JHM Butt, Denso, Delphi, NGK Spark Plugs, Draper Tools, Yuasa, MANN + HUMMEL, DeVilbiss, Bilstein, Wix, Texa ,TR Fastenings, Voith, JVC Kenwood, Bosch OE & OES.

For the 2017 event, there will be an improved layout to help visitors locate exhibitors in Aftermarket and Supply Chain zones in separated halls. UK and international manufacturers will showcase the latest developments from: parts and components, electronic systems, repair and maintenance, accessories and customising, car wash care and reconditioning, management and digital solutions, raw materials as well as tyres and accessories.

A compelling event programme will offer three seminar theatres, SMMT networking events and live technical demonstrations. The Aftermarket theatre, Technical Workshop theatre and Supply Chain seminar theatre will see inspiring talks from influential industry speakers.

The event offers an industry platform for all professionals, buyers, specifiers and engineers from motor factors, retailers, workshops, franchised dealerships as well as vehicle and tier manufacturers.

Simon Albert, Event Director said “After the amazing success of the 2016 show and the fact that exhibitor bookings are already 40% bigger than last year, we are really excited about the 2017 event. With registration live from January, we recommend prospective visitors to register then to ensure they receive all important show updates as well as to book any travel or accommodation early for good deals and availability”.
Register from January at www.automechanika-birmingham.com and invite a colleague to join you too.

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Valeo Service, awarded “Best Supplier of the Year 2016” by Groupauto International Trading Group

Valeo Service was recently presented with the award during the GroupAuto International suppliers meeting held in Faros, Portugal.

Hans Eisner, President and CEO of the 8.5 billion sales International Trading Group presented this prize to Eric Schuler, President of Valeo Service and his managing team. The reward is the symbol of GAU’s recognition for an unparalleled overall performance in terms of long-term partnership and the supplier’s capacity to deliver outstanding products and services for passenger cars and trucks. Over 50 suppliers were competing in 5 categories: “Logistics” “Marketing” “Quality”, “Sales” and the most coveted “Best Supplier of the Year”.

Valeo Service has been particularly congratulated for its ability to support and care for GroupAuto International expansion around the world with each one of the 35 GroupAuto members. The aftermarket specialist, strengthened by the new 2017 Valeo Service “We Care for You” strategy sets the rules for the future by furnishing a flawless value added partnership and will continue to support the upcoming new GroupAuto members, namely China and Mexico.

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IAAF announces topical agenda for 2016 conference

Following on from the announcement of its key theme for its annual conference, ‘How to survive and thrive – post Brexit’, delegates to the Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) conference on 15 December will also benefit from a number of topical aftermarket discussions while keeping the current economic climate firmly in view.

The conference, sponsored by Autoparts UK, aims to address issues surrounding the aftermath of the recent European Union (EU) referendum and produce a lively debate for conference guests, with John Sergeant, the well-known BBC television and radio journalist, on board to host the event.

Held at the ICC in Birmingham, Frost & Sullivan will open the proceedings, examining the importance of the aftermarket to the UK economy, before Alison Martin from DVSA gives an overview on the topical matter of vehicle safety defects and the UK’s approach to vehicle recalls.

Wendy Williamson, IAAF Chief Executive
Wendy Williamson, IAAF Chief Executive

Delegates will also have the chance to learn more about the threats of cybercrime and how to better protect their business with Iain O’Brien from Triple Wood Associates on hand to provide critical advice.

Julian Lloyd from ProVQ, IAAF’s newest member, will then share the many apprenticeship and training opportunities now available to the parts aftermarket.

Neil Pattemore from Figiefa will discuss the latest emerging threats to the aftermarket and on the implications of Brexit, before Alexander Haid from TecAlliance wraps up the proceedings focusing on the Caruso telematics platform and how it relates to the industry.

In the evening, guests will attend the IAAF Annual Awards and Dinner at the ICC, where they will enjoy a luxury four-course meal and await the results of some of the most respected awards in the industry.

Wendy Williamson, IAAF chief executive said: “The increasingly popular IAAF conference will provide an insight into the changing landscape of the automotive aftermarket. We encourage all members to attend and benefit from the expert advice offered throughout the day and use this opportunity to participate in topical discussions with other like-minded individuals.”

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Vauxhall denies claims of Corsa fire risk

Vauxhall has denied claims that its Corsa D and E models feature a wiring fault first seen on the Hummer H3 that can lead to a fire.

The car maker recalled 2767 Corsas running with a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine to address another fire-related issue earlier this year, but reports by The Sun suggested significantly more models could be affected by a more widely spread problem in the car’s heating and ventilation system.

The wiring fault that has allegedly caused dozens of fires is caused by metal contacts that can corrode over time and get hot as the connection loosens. This heat causes surrounding plastic parts to catch fire.

A similar fault was found in another General Motors product, the Hummer H3, leading to suggestions both it and the Corsa feature the same problem. However, Vauxhall has denied claims that its D and E Corsa models have the fault.

“Vauxhall confirms that there is a different vehicle heating and ventilation system configuration in Corsa D/E to the Hummer H3, inclusive of a different connector,” it said in an official response. “This is why the risk assessment applied to the Hummer H3 cannot be applied to Corsa D/E.”

Vauxhall also said it has not received any reports of vehicle fires attributed to the heating and ventilation system of its Corsa D and E models.

The story was featured on the BBC Watchdog programme on Wednesday 7th December in response to six customer cases. In addition, the Sun newspaper is suggesting that all Corsa D and E hatchbacks manufactured since 2006 may have a heater wiring fault that might cause flames to explode through the dashboard.  The expert used by the newspaper reported that: “The resistive heating associated with Zafira B failure mode 2 has also been identified in the heater wiring harnesses of Vauxhall Corsa D models.”

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NTDA reaffirms its support for 3mm Tread Safety campaign

The NTDA has announced that it remains firmly committed to its Tread Safety campaign, an initiative designed to raise awareness among motorists of the importance of changing tyres when they reach a 3mm tread depth rather than the lower, legal limit of 1.6mm, which was launched in partnership with ROADSAFE in 2005.

ntda-3mm-tread-safety

The campaign followed the 2003 research by the British Rubber Manufacturers Association (BRMA) which commissioned MIRA to study the effects of tread depth on stopping distances. The study was carried out on MIRA’s test track in Nuneaton, and 5 different tread depths were tested – 6.7mm, 4.1mm, 2.6mm, 1.6mm (the legal minimum) and 0.9mm.

This research was conclusive and showed that the stopping distances in the wet start to increase dramatically at tread depths of below 3mm. It also showed that at the legal minimum tread depth of 1.6mm, the stopping distance increased by 36.8% on hot rolled asphalt and 44.6% on smooth concrete.

NTDA Chief Executive Stefan Hay commented: “Naturally, the NTDA does not want to become embroiled in a difference of opinion between manufacturers or comment on specific products and we are certainly not going to be distracted by a debate on wastefulness, individual product performance or fuel consumption. We are looking at this purely from a safety perspective and decades of both independent and manufacturer’s research shows that generally performance, particularly wet grip, gets worse as the tread wears. This is more marked as the tyre wears below 3mm of tread and approaches the legal limit. Let’s be clear, this is not
about selling tyres, this is about the safety of UK motorists!”

Many subsequent research projects have confirmed the results and safety organisation RoSPA, for example, still recommends that tyres are changed once the tread reaches 3mm in depth. The RAC still states that motorists need to be aware that even though the legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm, in the rain anything less than 3mm can affect performance and the AA says check tread depth more often once it gets down to 3mm and aim to replace tyres before the tread wears below 2mm.

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WhoCanFixMyCar.com – new collaboration

WhoCanFixMyCar.com (WCFMC) will be making Shell’s high quality lubricant products available to customers for the first time on its platform.

Having recently retained market-leading position in the UK lubricants market (Kline 2016), Shell’s collaboration with a leading aggregator promises to offer a new proposition to both drivers and garage members alike.

Shell and WCFMC understand the importance of customer retention for workshop owners, and workshops will have access to Shell technical support, including OEM approvals and specifications support as well as offering oil solutions in a challenging and technical environment.

(L) Al Preston, cofounder WCFMC and (R) Roger Moulding, Shell Lubricants VP EMEA
(L) Al Preston, cofounder WCFMC and (R) Roger Moulding, Shell Lubricants VP EMEA

Roger Moulding, Shell Lubricants, VP EMEA Sales said: “We recognise that mobile and tablet platforms are now the default for many of our customers and this includes finding the best deals for high quality lubricants like Shell Helix motor oil and for all types of car servicing.

“WCFMC is a leading online player in the UK and we look forward to working with them on this exciting project to grow our online offering to today’s connected customers.”

Al Preston, WCFMC Co-Founder said: “Shell’s brand is synonymous with drivers and its products are recognised by both drivers and garage technicians as being world class.

“Vehicle lubricants are at the heart of all workshop activity and we are delighted to be working with a company whose products are market-leading and are associated with quality and innovation.

“We have a clear plan forward for the next year in how this collaboration will come together, benefit both businesses and offer increased value to our drivers and garage members.”

WCFMC’s core business connects drivers to locally rated garages and dealerships, with over 8,500 suppliers registered on its platform.

As mobile digitisation of the automotive aftermarket continues to evolve WCFMC sees almost 70 per cent of all its website activity flow through mobile or tablet devices – it has received over 350,000 individual service, maintenance and repair jobs posted on its platform.

Drivers select local garages based on their customer reviews, speed of response and price point. WCFMC has also developed an integrated service plan product for the aftermarket which will offer customers the confidence of choosing Shell lubricants for their service, and another for a vehicle manufacturer to use on new car sales. Its aftermarket version sees the platform itself procure all the engine oil, and other service items on behalf of the driver and garage.

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Schaeffler stars at technical and training weekend

The best independent garages from all over the UK and Ireland have hailed the third annual Autoinform LIVE weekend of innovative technical and hands-on training a massive success.

The event – organised by training specialists ADS and supported by the Original Equipment Suppliers Aftermarket Association (OESAA), which promotes the benefits of fitting original equipment (OE) parts – featured technical presentations by some of the automotive industry’s leading companies, including global technology giant Schaeffler (UK) Ltd.

Malcolm Short, Technical Services Manager for Schaeffler Automotive Aftermarket in the UK, said the event proved popular with the 450 delegates who attended.

He said: “We had around 200 delegates participate on our courses and we received many favourable comments. A lot of people said that this year’s event was the best yet and it was good to have so many people keen to learn about our products and how they can help them in their businesses.

“It is vital that independent garages get the right hands-on training and this year we have all worked hard to put on the right level of courses, not only for the new delegates, but also for those who have attended in previous years.”

This year’s event, which was held at the state-of-the-art GTG Academy in Wolverhampton, was split into three packages designed to streamline and improve the overall experience of delegates.

First-time visitors attended the ‘Green’ band module, which included popular sessions from previous shows, while second-timers took part in the ‘Amber’ band featuring some new and updated training modules.

For third-time delegates there was the ‘Red’ band which provided a new programme of topics.

schaeffler-autoinform-live

Schaeffler provided courses on a number of topics.

These included presentations on:
• the INA GearBOX
• E-Mobility, Thermal Management & the E-Arc Stabiliser
• Twin Clutch Technology including diagnostics
• There were also details of REPXPERT (www.repxpert.co.uk), Schaeffler’s online tool for professional garage mechanics

The event attracted a lot of positive comments from delegates who praised the organisers and the content of the show – some taking to Social Media to register their approval.

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A logical choice: Euro Car Parts strengthens partnership with Autologic

Euro Car Parts, the UK’s leading distributor of car and LCV parts, has renewed its contract with automotive diagnostics specialist Autologic, following last year’s exclusive agreement to add Autologic Assist, a fully integrated diagnostic support system, to its Workshop Solutions portfolio.

The ongoing relationship gives Euro Car Parts the sole, indirect, rights to distribute all Autologic products in the UK. A recognised world-leader in automotive diagnostics software, Autologic offers comprehensive coverage for brands including Audi, BMW, Citroën, Dacia, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes, Peugeot, Renault, Volvo and VW.

Utilising state-of-the art technology, Autologic Assist is the UK’s first fully integrated system, combining comprehensive diagnostics with third-party data and industry-standard aftersales support. In total, Autologic comprises eight service strands – AssistMobile, Assistportal, AssistOnline, AssistChat, Assistcall, Assistrescue, Assistcapture and Assist Pass-Thru Support. This is all backed up by an extensive, round-the-clock Vehicle Diagnostic Support service.

ecp_autologic_assist

Bill Stimson, marketing director at Euro Car Parts, commented: “Autologic has a proven track record in driving up efficiency, customer satisfaction and overall revenue, and is exactly the sort of technology in which garages should be investing. With high-spec technology playing an increasing role in automotive design, it is vital that independent garages arm themselves with the very latest devices, enabling them to continue servicing ever-evolving vehicles and vehicle technology. Investing in Autologic enables them to stay a step ahead of the competition, so we’re absolutely delighted that we can continue to offer it to our customers.”

Autologic’s Fault 2 Fix team, consisting of 50-plus, UK, in-house technicians, is able to supply vehicle diagnostic support at all levels for system users. This includes technical and device support, as well as regular upgrades to ensure the diagnostics provision is always up-to-date.

The extension of the Autologic contract complements a number of new initiatives launched by Euro Car Parts this year. Last month, Euro Car Parts announced the launch of Euro Academy, a unique and innovative technical resource designed specifically to support the independent garage.

The business has also announced it will be offering a first-to-market lifetime warranty on a wide range of mechanical parts. The new programme offers peace of mind to customers when it comes to purchasing major units such as clutch kits, rotating electrics and steering racks, as customers can rest assured that they will only have to pay for it once.

PAC recommends simpler approach

The Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons (PAC) has recommended that the government adopt a much simpler approach to the setting up of the new apprenticeship standards.

This echoes earlier calls from the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), which believes that without urgent action the government’s three million target for apprenticeship starts by 2020 is unachievable.

The cross party committee that oversees all government policy and spending plans identified the complexity of the process required to create and approve the employer led ‘Standard’ as an obstacle likely to derail government apprenticeship plans.

The PAC’s recommendation is: ‘The Department for Education (DfE) should streamline the process for devising, implementing and reviewing standards.’

The current process determines that to create a standard apprenticeship, a group of 10 employers must agree a draft plan for the apprenticeship. This has to be approved by the DfE and then the 10 employers must go away and develop it. This can take up to two years, based on existing new Standards. The DfE then has to approve that.

After that prospective end point assessment (EPA) bodies have to apply to and be approved by the DfE. There are currently not enough EPAs for the new standards based apprenticeships that are available now.

Steve Nash IMI CEO said, ‘The recommendation from the PAC for the government to simplify the new apprenticeship process is welcome. We can only hope the Minister is minded to listen. Whilst we have a number of new Standards under development there are only a couple which are actually finalised and this falls well short of meeting the broad requirements of our sector. It was originally predicted that 1,600 Standards would be in existence by 2017, but given the complexity and time taken to initiate and complete the process, the government have now moved this target out to 2020, so it’s clear that a slicker process is required.’

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Apple reveals self-driving car plans

Apple has acknowledged for the first time that it is investing in self-driving car tech, following a long period of unacknowledged rumours.

Writing to US transport regulators, Apple said it was “excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation”, commenting that it felt there were “significant societal benefits of automated vehicles” to be realised.

Ford, which itself plans to have self-driving cars on the road by 2021, has said it was working on the basis that Apple was building one; Apple already has several car-related internet domains registered, including apple.car and apple.auto.

A company spokesman for Apple said that the letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was prompted by its “heavy investment in machine learning and autonomous systems” and that it wanted to help define best practices in the industry.

The five-page letter, written by Apple’s director of product integrity Steve Kenner, urges the regulator to not introduce too many rules on the testing of self-driving cars, saying that “established manufacturers and new entrants should be treated equally.”

It also proposes that companies in the industry share data from crashes and near-misses in order to build a more comprehensive picture than one company could manage alone, and therefore enable the design of better systems.

However, it adds that an individual’s privacy should not be compromised by the sharing of such data. It suggests that the industry and regulators “address privacy challenges associated with the collection, use, and sharing of automated vehicle data”, with collaboration from privacy experts outside the automotive industry.

Apple’s letter does not state whether it actually intends to build a self-driving car of its own. There has been speculation that the firm had switched focus from work on a physical product to creating an autonomous driving system that could be used by others.

Google is already testing self-driving cars on the roads. In October, electric carmaker Tesla announced that all the cars it now builds will have the hardware installed to drive on their own.

In the UK, an autonomous vehicle was test-driven in Milton Keynes in the summer, with further trials in London planned.

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