SMMT calls for “business as usual” interim arrangements to avoid cliff edge at UK Automotive Industry summit

At the SMMT’s International Summit held on Tuesday 20th June, the UK automotive industry called on government to seek an interim arrangement with the EU that would maintain membership of the single market and customs union until a final agreement on a new relationship with the EU is negotiated and implemented.

The sector accepts that the UK will leave the EU and fully supports a bespoke and comprehensive agreement on a new relationship with the EU. However, a final agreement would be hugely complex and it does not believe such a comprehensive agreement can be reached by March 2019 – just over 20 months’ time. Without agreed interim arrangements, businesses would be faced with the ‘cliff edge’ and forced to trade under the World Trade Organisation rules – the worst foreseeable outcome for the sector, its employees and the British economy.

Speaking as the sector announced its annual performance figures, SMMT said it was time to be pragmatic about what can be achieved in the time available and what the consequences would be if the UK left without a deal. The UK and EU automotive sectors are highly integrated and any new relationship will need to address tariff and non-tariff barriers, regulatory and labour issues, all of which will take time to negotiate.

The UK automotive industry has always maintained the importance of the EU to its prosperity. The EU is by far the UK’s biggest automotive export market, taking over half our finished vehicles, four times as many as our next biggest market. The sector already exports to over 160 different global markets and has a consistent approach to free trade. It needs that trade to be tariff-free, as frictionless as possible to support the ‘just in time’ manufacturing process and with consistent regulation.

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World’s first driverless bus to go into service

The world’s first driverless bus is set to go into service in China after it was revealed in the city of Zhuzhou recently.

The vehicle, which is effectively a hybrid of bus, tram and train, follows a pre-set route laid out by white dots on the road. Called the Autonomous Rapid Transit (ART) Smart Bus, operator CRRC says it combines the relatively low running costs of bus routes with the complexity and modularity of subway trains such as London’s Underground.

Image courtesy SMMT

The ART will follow the pre-set path using sensors in the passenger compartments which will pick up the white dots. ART will be marketed as an option for smaller to medium sized cities that cannot afford to invest in the infrastructure necessary to have a subway or tram system.

As the bus’s autonomous systems allow it to detect other vehicles, it will be able to share the road with them and will not need to be separated from commuter traffic. Initially, each ART vehicle will have a ‘driver’ on board to take over in case of emergencies, though the drive system uses cameras and radar to remain wholly autonomous.

ART buses are doubly articulated with three separate carriages, and will hold up to 300 passengers when they start operating in 2018, along a 6.5km route through central Zhuzhou.

The ART is completely electric, and will run for 25km on a 10 minute charge, which will be incorporated into the initial infrastructure via charging points at the ‘station’ end of the line, where the ART buses will also be stored overnight. The routes will be timetabled to allow rapid recharging of the buses with minimal inconvenience to passengers.

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British motorists buy more car parts, accessories and services online than cosmetics or groceries finds new research

The UK’s car servicing and repair sector grew again in 2016, with turnover rising 2.4% to £21.6 billion, according to figures released by the Society
of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Growth was primarily driven by sustained record numbers of new car registrations, and greater reliability, leading to more vehicles remaining on British roads for longer but still requiring regular servicing and maintenance. The increasing level of advanced technology in modern vehicles was also a major influencing factor.

New research, commissioned by SMMT from independent consultancy Frost & Sullivan, shows that in 2016, UK motorists increased their annual spending on car maintenance by 1.7% to an average of £707. This was due, in part, to the replacement of more high tech components, which require new skills and equipment to fit. While tyres, lubricants and filters are still the most commonly replaced items, the research shows that demand is rising fastest for telematics devices and tyre pressure monitoring sensors.

SMMT’s key figures on the UK automotive aftermarket

The performance figures highlight the sector’s significant contribution to the UK economy. In 2016, the UK automotive aftermarket, which includes parts makers, distributors, retailers and workshops, grew its contribution to the economy by 2.5% to £12.5 billion and created 1,400 new jobs. The total number of livelihoods supported by the sector now stands at some 347,000 – more than the population of Coventry.

The increasing digitalisation of cars and components presents challenges and opportunities to the sector as it strives to keep pace with advanced vehicle technology, data driven servicing and the changing needs of motorists. The research shows that British motorists are also leading the way in online car maintenance, with one of the fastest adoption rates in Europe. Last year, UK consumers bought a higher percentage of automotive parts, accessories and services online than they did cosmetics and groceries.1 Together they spent some £920 million on items such as tyres, brakes and batteries, and by 2022 this is forecast to rise by more than three quarters to £1.65 billion.

There is also consumer appetite for connected services such as vehicle health reports, fault detection and recall alerts, all of which make it easier to maintain cars. The research identifies growing interest in emerging forms of mobility such as car sharing schemes, forecast to attract some 2.3 million members worldwide by 2025, and e-hailing. Consumers are also increasingly turning to other digital services for their maintenance needs and online comparison websites, common in the insurance and finance sectors, are now entering the aftermarket. An estimated 100,000 people in the UK are currently using these sites to compare workshop offerings and prices, and this is set to grow significantly. This all makes clear the need for aftermarket companies to continue adapting their business models, and increasing their investment in mobile platforms to remain competitive.

As the number and age of vehicles on UK roads increases, by 2022 the UK automotive aftermarket is projected to be worth some £28 billion, with an employee base of 400,000.

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Autonomous boats to hit the water in 2017

The technologies required for autonomous shipping, such as sensors and GPS, already exist and aren’t the challenge for the industry, according to Rolls-Royce. The challenge is to find the optimum way to combine them reliably and cost effectively.

Rolls-Royce sees autonomous cargo ships as the future of the maritime industry

For example, software that can help vessels decide what actions to take off sensor and camera data is still being perfected, according to the company, and regulations have yet to catch up to what is already possible.

“To secure regulatory approval, as well as industry support and public acceptance, remote and autonomous ships will need to be at least as safe as existing vessels,” the company said in a study. “They have the potential to reduce human-based errors but at the same time new types of risks will arise and will need to be addressed.”

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Connected car data proposals could threaten fleets’ SMR choice

British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) chief executive Gerry Keaney has labelled proposals for car manufacturers to collect and store data from connected vehicles in their servers, and release it only to third parties if there is an agreement, “very dangerous”.

The proposals, known as the Extended Vehicle Concept, could restrict choice over where a vehicle is repaired and could “curtail innovation” in the independent repair sector, in Keaney’s view, affecting those leasing companies and fleet managers that use independents to reduce service, maintenance and repair (SMR) costs.

Under the current draft proposals only the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) has access to real-time data, potentially giving them an “unfair advantage”, Keaney said.

“If our members own an asset it is up to them where they get that asset repaired or serviced and if they choose to go to an independent repairer they should be fully enabled to do that, and the independent repairer should be fully enabled to make the level of repairs that needs to be done to that vehicle,” he told delegates at the International Auto Finance Network (IAFN) spring conference.

However, car manufacturers have expressed concerns about safety and security issues if third parties are given direct access to vehicle data.

They believe it is neither feasible nor reasonable for them to test, validate and approve all third party applications, devices and services available on the market.

They also believe that data consent rests with the company car driver and not the registered keeper (typically the leasing company).

Who should have access to data has been an ongoing dispute, resulting in some company car drivers taking delivery of vehicles without access to connected services after leasing companies refused to agree to manufacturers’ terms and conditions.

Keaney pointed out that access to vehicle data has been discussed in the EU for more than a year with no agreement, resulting in OEM trade associations, including the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), “stepping into that void”.

The SMMT’s recent Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Position Paper states that unless vehicle manufacturers have entered into a specific legal agreement with each of the registered keepers and/or have a contractual obligation to do so, the vehicle user data i.e. personal data is only ever used or shared with the express and prior consent of the vehicle user not the registered keeper. It states vehicle manufacturers do not, by default, have an obligation to provide vehicle data to registered keepers.

It believes that the company car driver registering for the connected vehicle services, and agreeing to the terms and conditions associated with these, “must be put at the heart of any data consent process”.

Keaney said that some OEMs “are much more willing” to discuss data sharing and to “find workarounds to satisfy the needs of our sector”.

“I think some OEMs will be prepared to negotiate, they are prepared to recognise the value chain that is the fleet sector and is a core part of the business in the UK market,” he said.

Factors outside car manufacturers’ control may also mean connected vehicle data is shared in the future. “I would forecast with some degree of confidence that anybody that wants to drive a vehicle into the centre of London, certainly in the next 10 years, and into any other major European city in the next 10 years, will only be allowed to drive that vehicle into the city if they are prepared to share data on that car in terms of its location, its route and its planning,” Keaney said.

Autonomous vehicles will “depend upon data being made available”, he added.

For those reasons, Keaney believes manufacturers will ultimately release the connected data.

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Cricketers required!!! BEN Cricket Day – 22 June 2017 – Dorridge Cricket Club

Due to a few last minute cancellations, SJ Events have put out an appeal to fill the spaces now available.

So calling out to all you budding cricketers – why not come along and join what will be a fantastic day of cricket and networking with fellow industry members whilst enjoying lots of food and the odd drink or two!

If you are interested in supporting this event, please feel free to contact emma@sjevents.co.uk for further details.

Thank you in advance for your support and we look forward to seeing you on the day!

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RHA launches funded legal action against the truck cartel

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) is now giving UK haulage and logistics firms (whether or not they are RHA members) the chance to sign up to its legal action for compensation against truck manufacturers found guilty of illegal price fixing. In July last year the European Commission fined MAN, Volvo Group (which includes Volvo Trucks and Renault Truck) Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler, Iveco and DAF close to €3 billion (£2.6 billion) for price fixing and other cartel activities between 1997 and 2011. The compensation claim will be brought before the Competition Appeals Tribunal. If successful, haulage and logistics companies will get money back for vehicles sold or leased to them at inflated prices because of the cartel, if they sign up to the claim.

This is the first fully funded group claim against the truck manufacturers on behalf of affected hauliers. All UK truck owners can join the group legal action at www.truckcartellegalaction.com. There will be no cost for hauliers to be part of the group claim.

Early indications are that compensation could be in the region of £6,000 per truck on average. Companies that have purchased or leased new or second-hand trucks direct from manufacturers (including Scania) or dealers from 1997 onwards are eligible to join the claim. During the period the cartel operated we believe around 650,000 new trucks were sold. Although this legal action is being spearheaded by the RHA, non-RHA members are able to join.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “UK truck owners affected by the truck cartel have potentially paid too much for their lorries over a 14 year period and we’re determined to get a fair deal for them. This is a chance to get their compensation with no risk to their business or finances. As the representative body with sole responsibility for UK road freight operators, we are duty-bound to act on behalf of our members’ wishes. They have made it clear that they feel angry about the truck pricing cartel and want us to represent them. Our legal team at Backhouse Jones, Exchange Chambers and Brick Court will seek the best compensation deal that we can on behalf of our members and other UK victims of this cartel. To ensure that as many affected hauliers are able to join the claim, we have secured funding from Therium Capital Management Limited and the largest tranche of After The Event insurance that’s ever been underwritten so there’s no cost to joining the claim, or any other risks if the claim is unsuccessful.”

Backhouse Jones, solicitors, and barristers from Exchange Chambers and Brick Court will lead the claim. The group legal action is being funded by litigation funder Therium Capital Management Limited, who will cover the costs, including significant insurance cover. The RHA has therefore carefully organised the claim so as to avoid any cost or risk to hauliers joining the legal action.

On behalf of the legal team, David Went of Exchange Chambers said: “We are taking this case to the Competition Appeal Tribunal as it is the specialist court in the UK that deals with these types of claims and is an effective way to see redress for operators. The initial stage involves asking the Tribunal to authorise the RHA to act as industry representative and to set out the basis on which operators can opt into the claim. The first hearing is expected to be later this year.”

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Midwest Motor Factors bids farewell to Paul Yardley

Paul Yardley of Midwest Motor Factors has bid farewell to staff, customers and suppliers following the successful transition of the business to independent dealership group Arnold Clark.

Midwest Motor Factors started in 1980 by Ray and Maureen Bennett and Paul and Carol Yardley. After being acquired by Arnold Clark in 2015, Yardley stayed on to ensure a smooth transition while continuing to achieve business growth throughout its five branches.

Yardley said: “We feel the time is right for us to move on and leave Arnold Clark to drive the business forward. We’d like to thank all customers and suppliers for the help given to our staff over the past 37 years, as it has played a pivotal part in enabling us to build a strong company.”

Craig McCracken, Arnold Clark’s group factor manager, added: “It has been a real pleasure working with Paul these past few years. Going forward, we will carry on the good work at Midwest Motor Factors to ensure it continues to dominate parts supply in the West Midlands.”

Starting in Willenhall, West Midlands, Midwest Motor Factors employs 80 staff and has more than 40 vans operating out of a number of branches across the West Midlands alongside the award-winning Monmore Auto Parts branch, which is based in Wolverhampton.

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Changes to EU roaming charges for mobiles

DuoCall, the IAAF service member, has advised that as of Thursday 15 June 2017 EU roaming charges were abolished, which means that British traveller to EU countries will no longer have to pay higher rates when making calls, sending texts and using data abroad.

The change will only occur within EU countries, although some suppliers may include other countries. The change will allow mobile users to use their UK minutes, texts and data when travelling abroad.

By eradicating EU roaming charges current roaming plans such as Vodafone’s EuroTraveller, Three’s Feel at Home (for European countries) and O2’s O2 Travel (European bolt-on) will no longer be necessary. However, it should be noted that these changes do not apply when making a call from the UK to someone in a European Union country.

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ReMaTec 2017, RAI, Amsterdam, 18-20 June

Over one million product solutions and technical innovations will be on display at the show when it opens on Sunday 18 June, with more than one fifth of exhibitors showing at ReMaTec for the first time.

Automotive products and services remain at the heart of ReMaTec. Whether you’re interested in parts cleaning, turbocharger balancing, alternator testing, electronic steering diagnosis or cylinder honing – it will all be there. There will also be parts and components from heavy commercial, agricultural, non-road and other industries; on the show floor and in the speaker program at the ReMaTec Theatre there are a number of representatives from remanufacturing in sectors such as aviation, medical devices and marine.

A new feature of ReMaTec 2017 is the Guided Tours and Discovery. ReMaTec 2017 is introducing four tours to highlight the following topics: ‘Introduction to the remanufacturing industry’, ‘Remanufacturing in the maritime industry’, ‘Remanufacturing equipment’ and ‘Remanufactured turbochargers’.

Also new are the Meet the Expert Sessions. A team of reman industry veterans will be available for informal chats in comfortable surroundings one the problems and solutions facing remanufacturers. Their areas of expertise include succession planning, core return, reverse logistics and reman finance.

Anyone interested can register for free at www.ReMaTec.com/register and save €40.00 on the on-site entrance fee.

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