Archive | September, 2009

Halfords goes mobile with car parts sales

Halfords goes mobile with car parts sales

Halfords has launched a new text messaging service to help it sell more automotive products.

The “Text and Reserve” service allows shoppers to look up products, locate their nearest store with stock, reserve and collect the product – all from their mobile phone.

Customers key in their registration number and the service automatically recommends the right car parts or products for their make and model of car.

Initially, the service will support motor vehicle parts, including oil, bulbs, batteries and wiper blades.

The parts and accessories giant hopes to extend the offering to non-motor products at a later date.

Sam Ambrose, Halfords’ web development manager, said: “We can now maintain relationships with our customers wherever they are, allowing us to promote and market to them more effectively.”

Neil Stewart, commercial director for Salmon, which developed the service, added: “A new study by Gartner suggests mobile ad spending will grow 74% this year to US$913.5m and explode by 2011.

“The opportunities presented by the mobile channel are considerable and can contribute to revenue growth and internal cost efficiencies.”

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Check your oil, Good Garage Scheme tells consumers

The RAC attended 9000 oil-related callouts in 2008

The RAC attended 9000 oil-related callouts in 2008

Forté Lubricants continues to ramp up interest in its Good Garage Scheme network.

The company has launched a campaign to encourage motorists to keep their engine oil levels topped up.

It is “strongly advising” that drivers who need to top up their oil every 1000 miles visit a member of the Good Garage Scheme.

The ‘Check your Oil’ campaign uses figures quoted by Channel 5’s Fifth Gear.

According to the TV programme:

  • One in 5 vehicles is low on oil
  • 25 cars a day are ruined due to lack of oil
  • The RAC attended 9000 calls last year due to lack of oil

Phil Dugmore, the Good Garage Scheme’s technical manager, said: “The essence of the campaign is to ensure motorists are doing all they can to protect their vehicles’ engines by checking the oil once a week.”

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Denso UK seeks garages to join A/C network

A technician checks over a Denso compressor

A technician checks over a Denso compressor

Denso is looking for garage partners to join its new air conditioning service repair network.

The company, which has been operating a similar network in Spain since 2006, is now rolling out the concept in the UK and other countries in Europe.

Five A/C specialists have already been appointed in the UK.

According to Denso, there is a large and growing demand for A/C compressor repair in the independent aftermarket.

Around 85% of Europe’s 200m vehicles currently have air conditioning installed.

“We wanted to help solve the specialist A/C skills shortage, as well as moving repairers away from imitation and low quality remanufactured components,” said John Reid, the company’s field service engineer.

Garages that join the network will have access to Denso tools and the OE parts that are inside Denso’s A/C Compressors.

They will also be provided with normally restricted OE technical documentation, including repair and test manuals.

Prospective members must complete a technical training programme before being accredited.

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Scrappage will put garages out of business, warns parts supplier

Scrappage will put garages out of business, warns parts supplier

More than a quarter of garage owners believe they could go out of business within the next 2 years because of the car scrappage scheme.

28% of 100 garages surveyed by Car Parts Direct said they are unlikely to survive beyond 2011. 56% said they would survive the scheme, while 16% were unsure.

The parts supplier revealed its findings after the Government announced that it will extend its publicly funded scrappage incentive scheme with an additional £100m.

Car Parts Direct estimates that, on top of the 227,750 cars that have already been scrapped under the scheme, 175,000 more could be destroyed over the next 6 months.

And it said that, as a result of the scheme, 22,000 of the older parts in its portfolio are now surplus to requirements.

The company’s boss, Mark Cornwall, said: “[This] hair brain scheme has resulted in some perfectly good vehicles been destroyed. We should be tightening our belts rather than throwing money away like this.

“Most new cars purchased under the scheme are manufactured abroad, safeguarding foreign jobs whilst increasing the UK’s level of debt – it’s complete madness.

“The cost of buying a new car compared to running an older vehicle does not stack up. Anyone with a 10 year-old vehicle who looks after it will enjoy several years of trouble-free motoring at a fraction of the cost of buying new.

“We don’t all get our money as easy as our politicians or have the luxury of expense accounts we can dibble into.”

Do you believe your business is threatened by the scrappage scheme? Have you noticed a drop in sales as a result of it?

Get in touch and have your say by voting in our online poll and using the comment facility below.

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Scrappage extension is not surprising, but the aftermarket jury’s still out

The scrappage scheme has worked for VMs such as Ford but how is the aftermarket faring?

The scrappage scheme has worked for VMs such as Ford but how is the aftermarket faring?

Today’s news that the Government is extending its scrappage incentive scheme is not so surprising really, given the inordinate amount of pressure heaped upon it by the new car sector – and others.

And let’s not forget that every Government as it draws nearer to a general election needs a crowd pleaser at its annual party conference.

Since its launch in May, the scheme has certainly proved its worth to VMs and their dealer networks, and has pumped much needed cash back into the new car market.

As one factor I bumped into last week argued: “It’s easy for the aftermarket to bash car makers but we do actually need them to produce the new cars that we service.”

As of today, 227,750 new cars have been purchased through the scheme – and in just four short months, that’s not bad going.

But what of the wider effects on the aftermarket? When the scheme was first mooted, it sparked a backlash from the independent sector.

Many told CAT that they feared such a scheme would mean losses for the parts replacement sector and for independent garages, which had been capitalising on consumers’ newfound frugality.


Perhaps it’s too early to say whether these fears have been realised.

How many of the cars consigned to the scrap heap were kept effectively off-road and therefore not within the reach of the maintenance sector; how many would not yet have been due their MOT or service?

These are questions to which we don’t yet know the answers; but the anecdotal evidence I’ve heard from garages and factors is that it’s been pretty much business as usual.

But the long-term impact could be quite something. Most OE parts manufacturers are usually pretty quiet when it comes to this kind of issue, but it is almost certainly a worry for their aftermarket divisions.

At a press conference this summer, I asked NGK Europe’s deputy managing director, Norbert Neuhaus, what he expected would be the impact on his company’s aftermarket parts sales.

And refreshingly, he didn’t hesitate to answer: “We think the European car parc will lose 4 million cars to the scrappage scheme, which for us could translate to 16 million cylinders.”

That’s no small number.

And he added that it’s not just the parts market for vehicles in this country that will be affected.

Many cars, once they have reached the end of their wanted life here are shipped over to the developing world where they continue to require parts and service. That is business that is lost to the parts sector, too.


What may provide a silver lining for the aftermarket is the news that, from today, vans aged 8 years and older are also covered by the scrappage scheme.

That could provide a boon to distributors wishing to breathe new life into their fleets.

Do you own a van(s) that falls into this age bracket? Is the £2000 incentive enough to make you consider renewing your fleet? Would you turn down the opportunity as a matter of principle? (I’m sure you’ll let me know just how silly a question that last one is!)

I’d love to hear from you on this issue – it’s one that we’ll be analysing further in future editions of CAT, so get in touch at or by using the comment facility below.

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Government extends “popular” scrappage scheme

Government extends “popular” scrappage scheme

The Government-funded scrappage scheme will be extended, Lord Mandelson announced today.

Speaking at the Labour Party conference in Brighton this afternoon, the Secretary of State for business, innovation and skills, said that the scheme will be bolstered to fund an additional 100,000 new cars and vans.

He said: “There are encouraging signs that the economy is picking up.  But recovery remains fragile and uncertain, especially in manufacturing and one of its cornerstones, the car industry.

“Our car scrappage scheme has been so successful the money is running out.  The industry has asked that the scheme be topped up.

“So today I am extending our popular car scrappage scheme with extra money for an additional 100,000 cars and vans.”

The news comes after the VBRA said the scheme has not had a negative impact on the aftermarket.

The financial incentive was due to end in February or when the original £300m fund ran out.

To date more than 200,000 new vehicles have been purchased using the incentive scheme and 200,000 old cars have been scrapped.

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5 MINUTES WITH Mario Fiems, EA ’09

5 MINUTES WITH Mario Fiems, EA ’09



3Mario FiemsMario Fiems, the director of Equip Auto, tells why the Paris trade show will help to shape tomorrow’s independent aftermarket


You have said that 2009 is a critical year in the reshaping of the old automotive industry. Can you explain why?

 To answer this question, I think you need firstly to look back at the history of the automotive industry.

Overall, in the last century growth in our industry has been constant. Why? Because people have to get about. Mobility is an essential part of life across the world – and always will be.

This year is crucial on a number of fronts – but especially when it comes to the economic situation and the rise of new technologies surrounding ‘greener’ cars.

Companies should now be preparing to regain, hold or grow their positions in their respective markets. But crucially, they may not be able to do that using the same old products or methods.

The economic crisis has bred several phenomena. Specifically, we are seeing the emergence of low-cost and eco-friendly motoring, along with and including the rapid development of the electric and hybridised car.

This will affect the industry in its entirety, from the manufacture and launch of a car through to its maintenance in the aftermarket.

This is an important year because businesses not moving with the times will find it hard to become competitive again.


How can Equip Auto help to facilitate economic recovery in the aftermarket?

The industry has to adapt and seize new opportunities. Now is the time to invest to see growth when we move out of recession – while the crisis is not over yet, it is becoming clear that growth is on the horizon.

Equip Auto 2009 is dedicated to getting the industry back on course. We will play our part in helping companies get through and beat the recession.

Equip Auto will be running an extensive programme of events and conferences to enable each professional in the aftermarket to help grow his or her business.

Themes include ‘Tomorrow’s Garage’. We will examine what it might look like, with an emphasis placed on electric and hybrid cars, reusable parts and how garages can and will adapt to suit a new and growing market.

Additionally, we’ll be publishing a ‘Promotion Offers Book’, which will be available on the website before the opening of the exhibition.

It will enable visitors see the benefits that will be available and help them prepare their visit more effectively and clearly identify good business opportunities.

Over 200 new products will be launched at EA 2009. The economic crisis hasn’t stopped manufacturers from innovating. In fact, the opposite is true. There will be plenty of new ideas on show that could increase business for visitors.

Exhibitors will be proposing concrete solutions to soften the effect of the economic situation to both current and prospective clients.


This year you have opened up the show to include the agricultural and two-wheel sectors. Can you explain why?

Simple really: we want to present a new dimension to the Show by becoming the international equipment exhibition for all types of vehicle.

Visitors will discover a range of products and services that are dedicated specifically to equipment and repairs. This will include construction machinery, heavy goods vehicles, farm, motorbikes, cars – everything, in fact.

It will be possible to discover new parts and tools that will enable repair of every sort of vehicle you can imagine. This should heighten the chances visitors will have of discovering true technical innovations.

This decision is backed by research made after 2007 show. 71 percent of suppliers and 58 percent of visitors said they were interested in seeing the exhibition open its doors to these new product ranges.

People want to see more equipment dedicated to repair, so we have been strongly trying to achieve that for the 2009 show.

And yes, we think there are potential untapped opportunities for UK visitors, especially in customised vehicle accessories.


Talking of car accessories, can you tell us more about your new partnership with the performance and styling show?

We have, in partnership with the PTS Fair, used their database to help expand the performance and styling part of Equip Auto.

There will definitely be good opportunities for UK garages and retailers in this area, with new potential product lines that could improve businesses’ turnover.

Companies interested in this area should visit Hall 5 where there will be over 100 exhibitors, all specialising in accessories, performance and styling.


What new technologies can visitors expect to see showcased and debated at the exhibition?

I hinted at this earlier – I think the key area will be the forums we’re preparing on ‘electro mobility’. These will be held by and with speakers of international fame and expertise in this field.

The aim is simple, for them to pass on their knowledge and views as to where the industry is now and where it is going – and how the industry is likely to be affected by electric vehicles and how it can make the most from them.


Why is this event not to be missed by the UK Aftermarket? How will you convince busy business owners to attend?

The Exhibition is a crucial event for the entire car industry and aftersales parts sector.

The first figures for pre-registration of visitors show tell us that there is a huge interest in Equip Auto from the aftermarket.

Equip Auto is the ideal platform for exchanges of information, business, the gain of knowledge and the ability to move your business forward by learning about where the car industry is going next.

Our survey shows that buyers come to the exhibition intending to invest in new products, new solutions, new parts and new ways to run a business and to diversify.

The range of the technical products and information on offer is massive and of an exceptionally high quality. It places Equip Auto at the forefront of aftermarket development and makes it rank highly among major world automotive events.

Everything is in place. Conferences, presentations of new products, showcases of innovation and prestigious awards all make Equip Auto the place to be this October for anyone involved in the UK Aftermarket.

If your business is to stay in touch with developments in the industry – and take advantage of them – you really should be there.


  • DATE: Tuesday October 13 – Sunday October 18, 2009
  • VENUE: Paris-Nord Villepinte Exhibition Centre – 93420 Villepinte France, Halls 2-6
  • BOOKING: Book online and plan your visit at

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Unipart sparks garage interest with RallyMatch promo

The RallyMatch girls: coming to a workshop near you

The RallyMatch girls: coming to a workshop near you

Unipart Automotive is celebrating its 4th decade by teaming up with NGK to give away a Ford Focus RS worth £26,395.

Garages that  buy a set of Unipart spark and glow plugs or an NGK Lambda sensor at a Unipart stockist during October and November will be given the chance to win the car.

Under its anniversary RallyMatch promotion, Unipart will issue sales vouchers to purchasers of the ignition parts with a number that can be registered on the website.

There are more than 30,000 prizes up for grabs worth a total of £100,000, including TVs, Sony Playstations, jackets and tee-shirts.

RallyMatch has produced a range of marketing initiatives to support the campaign including email, leaflets and posters.

In addition, a team of three RallyMatch promotional girls will be touring the UK to encourage garages to sign up.

The winner of the Ford RS will be announced in time for Christmas.

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Prodrive moves to silence speedway critics

Mick Metcalfe (left) and Scott Parton designed the Prodrive 115 silencer in just 10 weeks

Mick Metcalfe (left) and Scott Parton designed the Prodrive 115 silencer in just 10 weeks

Prodrive has developed a new exhaust silencer, which it said should help to keep speedway racing alive.

In recent years, noise complaints have threatened the closure of several speedway tracks.

As a result, the sport’s governing body, the International Motorcycling Federation, has introduced a noise limit of 115 decibels from January 1, 2010.

The new Prodrive silencer for speedway and grasstrack bikes was designed to meet the new noise limit without any reduction in power.

The company said it can be applied to existing engines with the minimum of re-tuning, avoiding considerable expense.

The news could come just in time for the Birmingham Brummies Speedway Club, which this September was given 12 months by local authorities to cut noise levels or face the axe.

Mick Metcalfe, principal design engineer at Prodrive and a lifelong speedway fan, said:  “I hope what we have managed to do is create something those appeals to the competitors and that will satisfy planning authorities in the UK and overseas.”

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Continental wins twice at Tyre and Fast Fit Awards

Continental's Great Days Out consumer promotion

Continental's Great Days Out consumer promotion

Continental has made its mark on the tyre industry, winning two major awards this autumn.

It was named Manufacturer of the Year 2009 by the National Tyre Distributors Association at the Tyre and Fast Fit Awards in September.

And, in a double whammy, it also made a splash with its Great Days Out Campaign, which won it the Industry Advertising Campaign Award.

Continental was singled out for praise for its fuel-saving truck tyres, its puncture resistant ContiSeal car tyre and the CSEasy, an industrial tyre that can be fitted without a mounting press.

The tyre maker was also recognised for the success of its biggest ever consumer promotional campaign, which offered over 300 days out for families and kids.

Its press advertising is estimated to have been seen by some 19m adults, while online advertising delivered more than 14m page impressions.

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