Autofirst Network partners with WhoCanFixMyCar.com

Autofirst Network has agreed a deal with WhoCanFixMyCar.com to support its nationwide network of independent garages. The arrangement offers every Autofirst Network member the opportunity to have its own profile on the platform for 12 months, enabling them to receive notifications every time a local motorist requires a quotation for a service or repair.

WhoCanFixMyCar.com connects thousands of Britain’s car owners with local garages, with more than 45,000 requests for work posted on the website every month. It allows customers to find local garages, request quotations for work and leave reviews online. In addition, garages can access an online messaging system, enabling them to talk directly with customers prior to booking work.

Bill Stimson, Marketing Director at Euro Car Parts, commented: “Motorists are increasingly turning to the internet in their search for reputable garages and platforms such as WhoCanFixMyCar.com present lots of opportunities for independent garages to connect with drivers.

“By making the Autofirst Network more visible to motorists looking for work through WhoCanFixMyCar.com, we are helping our members win new business, reduce periods of downtime and gain customers for life. Additionally, we can see that a handful of our members have already won over 2,700 bookings on the platform.”

One Autofirst Network member that has benefitted from a profile on WhoCanFixMyCar.com is Autosolutions, in East Kilbride, Scotland. The company first signed up to WhoCanFixMyCar.com in 2014 and will have a presence on the platform for the next 12 months, through the Autofirst Network.

Owner, Drew Irvine, commented: “WhoCanFixMyCar.com has turbo-charged my business and provided a huge number of repeat customers. Since joining the platform, I have had more than 1,000 bookings. We are delighted we can continue to access WhoCanFixMyCar.com through the Autofirst Network.”

The Autofirst Network was set up by Euro Car Parts in 2016 and offers members a unique package consisting of a national warranty programme, marketing campaign support, access to an industry-leading web-based management system and technical partnerships providing training, technical guidance and expertise.

For more information on the Autofirst Network, visit: www.autofirstnetwork.com/.

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Fabriscape Lda purchases controlling interest in TP Engineering

Fabriscape LDA, incorporating EuroFlo Premium Emission Systems in the UK, is delighted to announce that Fabriscape have purchased a controlling interest in the emission control manufacturer TP Engineering Ltd. Fabriscape LDA, incorporating EuroFlo Premium Emission Systems in the UK, is delighted to announce that Fabriscape have purchased a controlling interest in the emission control manufacturer TP Engineering Ltd.

  • Fabriscape LDA is a specialist emissions manufacturer producing high quality Exhaust Systems for the automotive aftermarket from their ISO accredited factory in Portugal.
  • TP Engineering, incorporating TPCATS, are manufacturers of aftermarket Catalytic Converters, Front Pipes, Diesel Particulate Filters and Engineered Products and are based in an ISO9001:2015 factory located in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.

    These two like-minded family run businesses have a combined manufacturing history and experience of over 70 years in the production of quality exhaust and emission related products. Both companies supply their products to both domestic and overseas markets.

    This strategic acquisition further enhances EuroFlo’s market leading emission control offer and at the same time will provide many additional benefits to TP Engineering’s existing customer base with improved service levels, including the same day logistics availability of products.
    Paul Stubbs continues as the Managing Director and as a shareholder of TP Engineering. The other current senior T.P. Engineering directors will also remain in the business and will comprise a new senior management team that includes Tony Stock, Commercial Director and shareholder of Fabriscape LDA.

    Tony Stock commented, “This acquisition is a great fit for both of the businesses and importantly our customers. The combination of the two businesses’ key core engineering competences will be far greater and more powerful than that of their individual parts. Both businesses are already involved in the production of ultra-premium emission control products and our mission statement for the combined operation is it will continuously focus on delivering ever improving product quality and market leading ranges based on a fast and intelligent approach to part number development. This will be to the great benefit of our customers throughout the UK and Europe”.

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VW faces UK group legal action over emissions scandal

The Financial Times has recently reported that to date almost 60,000 people have signed up to a group legal action against the Volkswagen Group following the revelations about emissions, on the basis that VW manufactured and sold cars with diesel engines that failed to comply with EU legislation on emissions by means of installing software that artificially lowered NOx emissions during testing cycles. This includes 1.2M cars sold in the UK under the various VAG brands.

In March the High Court is to be asked to approve an application for a group litigation order (GLO), similar to a US class action lawsuit, which will enable the legal action to proceed.

In the EU VW has not admitted to any wrong-doing or liability and continues to resist compensation claims, only offering a “fix” for affected cars or, in some cases, enhanced trade-in terms and similar non-financial incentives. The VW view is that their UK customers will not have suffered loss as a result of the NOx issue but will not comment further due to the commencement of the legal proceedings.

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IMI calls for government action

The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) is calling for the government to address the existing shortfall in apprentices by accelerating their proposed investment in careers advice in schools.

Figures show an overall drop of 61% in apprenticeship starts across all sectors since the introduction of the Levy. This has resulted from a combination of confusion amongst employers about the new processes, reluctance by smaller employers to take on what they see as an increased administrative burden and simple inertia in the transition from the old Apprentice Frameworks to the new Standards.

With government cuts having removed independent careers advice in schools in England, the IMI found that over half of young people aren’t being given the tools to explore new opportunities outside A Levels and university.

Steve Nash

Steve Nash, chief executive at the IMI said, ‘The automotive sector has seen a 15% drop in apprenticeship starts, which is relatively small compared to the overall 61% and perhaps reflects the fact that apprenticeships are a long established entry into automotive, with many excellent employers offering first class schemes. But this is still a serious issue in a sector hungry for new talent. We can only expect this to improve if government take steps to significantly improve the quality and availability of careers advice in schools.

‘The IMI surveyed parents and young people to find that over 80% of parents said they would choose university over an apprenticeship for their children. So it’s clear that reforming apprenticeships alone is not enough. Far more needs to be done to educate both children and their parents on the alternatives to University if the government is to reach its aim of gaining an even balance between those opting for the traditional higher education route and those choosing vocational learning.’

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Pothole-related breakdowns continue to rise, says RAC

Data shows that 2,830 RAC individual member breakdowns were logged between October and December 2017 where vehicles had broken down due to damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs or distorted wheels, likely due to poor quality road surfaces.

The number of these potential pothole breakdowns was up from 2,547 in the same quarter of 2016. It suggests that the surface quality of some UK roads has already been impacted by the higher rainfall and increased days of frost during the last quarter of 2017 compared with the same period in 2016.

The RAC believes the condition of many roads is therefore hanging in the balance with the potential for a further sharp rise in the number of potholes by the spring if the weather is particularly wet or cold over the next few months.

There was also a sharper increase in pothole-related breakdowns between the third and fourth quarters of 2017 than there was in the year before. While an increase is always expected between the two seasons as the weather turns colder, breakdowns rose by 45% between the last two quarters of 2017, compared to 38% in 2016.

The total number of RAC ‘pothole’ faults in all four quarters of 2017 exceeded the equivalent quarters 12 months earlier in 2016. And October to December of last year also saw the highest ever proportion of fourth quarter RAC breakdowns where poor quality road surfaces were likely be a factor, with 1.2% of all breakdowns associated with such faults – up from 0.8% in 2015 and 1% in 2016. Previously, the highest proportion of fourth quarter RAC ‘pothole’ breakdowns stood at 1.1% in 2013.

The RAC’s Pothole Index, a 12-month rolling measure of the share of pothole fault breakdowns compared to 2006, corrected for seasonal weather effects and improving longer term vehicle reliability, has risen again for the third successive quarter.

Using a base of 1.00 established in 2006, the Index for the fourth quarter of 2017 stood at 2.59 – with the higher the figure, the greater the likelihood of an RAC member suffering a breakdown caused by a pothole and so potentially the worse the standard of some roads.

The Index is now at its highest since the second quarter of 2016 suggesting that the condition of our roads has been declining steadily over the last 18 months – although at 2.59 it is thankfully still well below its peak of 3.5 reached in Q2 2010.

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2018/19 payroll changes

The Autumn Budget 2017 announced changes to tax and NI limits. What do you need to know to prepare for the 2018/19 payroll year?

Tax code changes. The personal allowance has increased. For 2018/19, it will rise by £350 to £11,850 from 6 April 2018. Therefore, unless you receive an amended tax code notification, all “L” suffix codes will need to increase by 35 for 2018/19, e.g. code 1150L becomes 1185L.

NI changes. The employment allowance, which relieves employers of the first £3,000 of employers’ NI, is still available for 2018/19. The NI thresholds have increased so both employees’ and employers’ Class 1 NI will be due on earnings over £162 per week (£8,424 per year).  If an employee is under 21, check that you are using the NI category letter M instead of A as although they still have to pay employees’ NI on earnings over £162 per week, your company won’t have to pay 13.8% employers’ NI on earnings between £162 and £892 per week. This also applies to apprentices under 25 when the NI code should be H.

Optimum salaries and dividends. If the directors are also shareholders and receive remuneration in the form of a minimum salary and dividends, what’s their optimum salary/dividend package for 2018/19? Assuming: (1) they don’t have an employment contract so the national minimum wage doesn’t apply; (2) your annual employers’ NI bill is already more than £3,000, so you will have fully utilised the employment allowance; and (3) they have not yet accrued maximum entitlement to the state pension, then the sweet spot is to go to the NI threshold but no higher. So for 2018/19, this would be a monthly gross salary of £702 which takes them up to the NI threshold. With regards to dividends, if the director shareholders want to go up to the basic rate limit (£34,500 for 2017/18) but no further, assuming they have no other income, they can have dividends of £3,426 that can be taken tax free in the personal allowance (£11,850 – (£702 x 12)). The next £2,000 (down from £5,000 in 2017/18) of dividends will also be tax free as they are within the dividend allowance. This leaves the balance of dividends of £32,500 (£34,500 – £2,000) which they will have to pay personal tax on at 7.5% (£2,437.50) due by 31 January 2020.

For 2018/19 add 35 to any tax code ending in L.  Director shareholders not bound by minimum wage requirements can receive a salary of £702 per month tax and NI free with the rest as dividends.

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Autoelectro’s Nick Hood to strengthen customer relations by delivering monthly column straight into their inbox

Autoelectro’s UK Sales Manager, Nick Hood, will be putting pen-to-paper throughout 2018, as he shares his automotive aftermarket experiences with the remanufacturer’s customers.

In a monthly column, dubbed ‘Nick Says’, he will write an open letter to Autolectro’s customer network of motor factors and technicians, where he will give his views about industry hot topics, as well as inform readers by highlighting key developments from within the four walls of the company’s remanufacturing facility in Bradford.

Autolectro’s Nick Hood

During his first column, Nick asked: “What’s the real price of old core?”

He also took a trip down memory lane, as he revisited some crucial moments throughout 2017, illustrated some key range introductions and how Autoelectro has embraced new technologies. He also revealed his thoughts about what he and the automotive aftermarket can expect throughout the next 12 months.

Nick said it was “vitally important” that Autoelectro forged even closer and stronger ties with its customers, to ensure they’re fully-up-to-speed with, not just Autoelectro news, but essential and current industry talking points.

If readers have any questions that they would like to ask Nick, they are encouraged to send them to him directly – at sales@autoelectro.co.uk with ‘Nick Says’ in the subject header – and he will choose the best of them to answer in forthcoming columns, which will be delivered straight to their inbox.

For those already signed-up, they don’t need to do anything; however, those not registered but are interested in receiving this free monthly supplement can do so by, once again, e-mailing sales@autoelectro.co.uk.

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Business Development Manager joins the growing Elcome team

Elcome is pleased to announce and welcome Andy Smith, who has joined the Business Development team, supporting the company’s continued growth. Andy will be responsible for maintaining close working relationships with Elcome’s existing UK and international customer base.

Andy Smith, the new BDM at Elcome

Having accumulated 30 years’ experience in the industry, from both dealerships and the aftermarket within the car, van and HGV sectors, Andy joins Elcome from GSF Car Parts, Birmingham, one of the UK’s leading distributors of replacement car parts. Whilst there he was responsible for the complete product lifecycle management of various product groups and providing a market leading programme. He has also run his own garage and held various business development and product management roles with Comline, HTC and Euro Car Parts, bringing a wealth of experience in parts, cataloguing and application data.

“I am thrilled to be part of the Elcome team. For the most part, my career has been spent in the aftermarket industry and I look forward to continuing that tradition by providing ‘best in class’ solutions to Elcome’s current and future customers”.

Tim Entwistle, Elcome’s Managing Director, states “We are delighted to welcome Andy to our team. He brings an understanding of both cataloguing and customer relationship quality that will be an asset to the company”.

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Preparing for GDPR – consent must not be hidden in terms and conditions

In the previous article produced by our colleagues at Lawgistics looking at the steps to take when preparing for GDPR, the topic dealt with related to the data audit. If as part of that audit a decision was taken that the business would rely on consent as the legal basis for processing personal data, the business must be certain that it meets the high standards contained in the GDPR.

If the business has collected names and email addresses over the years by having a checkbox on sales invoices requiring customers to tick if they do not want to be included in an emailing list, it is almost certain that this will be a breach of the GDPR. Why? Because the criteria for consent has changed.

This type of checkbox asks people to opt in rather than to opt out. The difference is subtle but the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) will want to see that people were very clear on how their information would be used and that the business has given them a well-defined and genuine choice.

The consent must not be hidden within the businesses terms and conditions. It should be separate and clear.

It is not permissible to have a tick already in a box on an online field which requires a person to untick to remove consent. There must be what the ICO calls a positive opt-in.

A company cannot demand or assume consent. For example, it is not possible to assume that the person consented to receiving details of a special offer simply because they previously made a purchase from the business and they submitted their details for the invoice. Keeping the personal data on the invoice is allowable as it is required for the contract and for fulfilment of the legal obligation to keep proper tax records etc, but this does not mean that the same data can be used for marketing purposes. No clear consent to receiving marketing = no marketing.

The ICO says consent must be specific and granular. This means, for example, a business cannot rely on consent to all marketing, just because the customer has consented their details being sent to one specific third party. It must be made clear to the customer, exactly what will happen to their data. There is no one size fits all consent.

If the customer’s details are to be sent to a third party, This third party must be named. A customer must be aware of where their information is to be sent.

If asked, the business will need to be able to prove to the ICO that consent has been given and thus it is necessary for the business to ensure that it’s record keeping is in good order. It will need records of who consented, what exactly they consented to, the date of consent and how the customer consented.

In addition to all the above, the customer must be advised that they can withdraw consent at any time and informed on how this can be done.

In summary, if a business relies on consent which will most usually be for marketing purposes, it must ensure records are sufficient to prove to the ICO that the customer clearly understood the nature of the consent. By following these steps a business can avoid a fine.

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Audi ordered by Germany’s KBA motor transport authority to recall 127,000 cars and VW in Canada reach settlement deal

A report in Bild am Sonntag says that Germany’s KBA motor transport authority has ordered Audi to recall 127,000 vehicles (77,600 of them in Germany) after illicit emission-control software was detected in the manufacturers latest Euro 6 diesel models.

The recall involves A4, A5, A6, A7 and A8 sedans and Q5 and Q7 SUVs, the German transport ministry told the DPA news agency, confirming a report in Bild am Sonntag.

The KBA has found that the affected cars’ engine management systems turn off emissions-reducing measures in real-world traffic while allowing them to work on a test bench, the paper said

The KBA is threatening to withdraw type approval for the latest generation of Audi’s A8 range-topping sedan, Bild am Sonntag said.

Audi said the models had been included in a voluntary recall of 850,000 diesel vehicles with V-6 and V-8 TDI engines announced in July.

“The engine control software for the vehicles in question will be completely revised, tested and submitted to the KBA for approval,” Audi said in a statement.

Audi said it has been examining its diesel cars for potential irregularities for months in close cooperation with the KBA.

“As part of this systematic and detailed assessment, the KBA has now also issued a notice regarding Audi models with V-6 TDI engines,” it said.

In November, Audi announced a recall of 5,000 cars in Europe for a software fix after discovering they emitted too much nitrogen oxide.

Last month, Audi dissolved the task force it set up to investigate how many of its diesel cars have manipulated software.

In a separate deal in Canada said to be worth $290 million, Canadian settlement class members and U.S. customers with eligible Volkswagen and Audi vehicles originally sold or leased in Canada can submit claims for benefits under the Settlement Program.  The company has set up an online portal where vehicle owners can register their claims.

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