Archive | January, 2018

INDUSTRY REACTS AS 4-1-1 MOT IS SCRAPPED

INDUSTRY REACTS AS 4-1-1 MOT IS SCRAPPED

Following the news that a proposal to change the frequency of the first MOT test to four years instead of three has been scrapped by the government, the industry has reacted with delight.

The IAAFs Wendy 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.”

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.

The VMs dealer networks have also welcomed the proposal. Sue Robinson, Director of the RMI’s National Franchised Dealer Assoc. commented: “The NFDA had previously highlighted the potentially devastating road safety implications which extending the date of the first MoT from three to four years might have had. It is extremely positive to see that the government has acknowledged this.”

Also welcoming the news are factor groups. ECP’s CEO Martin Gray said: “We applaud the Minister’s decision to put road safety first. As we highlighted in our consultation to the government around 17% of cars fail their first MoT on their initial attempt, so extending a car’s first MoT to four years could have resulted in an extra 410,000 unsafe cars on the roads and risk higher accident rates. The three-year-for-first MoT system ensures vehicle defects are picked up and remedied quickly, to ensure the safety of all road users”.

“We’d like to thank all those in the industry petitioned the government. It is our belief, and that of the wider sector, that road users’ safety will be maintained as a result of this decision.”

However, not everyone is delighted with the decision. A poster on the Daily Express website set the tone for the majority of reader comments by saying: “Again rip off UK. In Spain first MOT at four years and then every two years until the vehicle is ten years old then every year. Garages must have done a lot of lobbying”.

Mixed responses for 4-1-1 proposition

 

 

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TRADE CONNECTIONS KEEP OBD PORT OPEN

TRADE CONNECTIONS KEEP OBD PORT OPEN

The latest rumblings from Europe are that the OBD port will remain to be fitted to vehicles, even in the age of ‘over the air’ diagnostics and software updates.

Lobbying from various trade groups, both in the UK and on the Continent have persuaded the EU council’s main preparatory body has agreed that the socket should remain.

All is not plain sailing however. There is still the possibility of the legislation being vetoed as it has to be voted on by both the EU Parliament and the EU Council, plus the ruling states that the port only has to work ‘when the vehicle is in motion’, meaning VMs could still get around key-on-engine-off diagnostics.

The IAAF was one of the trade bodies involved in the negotiations. Chief Executive Wendy Williamson said: “This is fantastic news, and although not the end game it’s a significant step towards keeping the OBD port alive.

“The missing OBD connector would impact not just on garages but the entire spare parts supply chain including manufacturers, distributors, producers of diagnostic equipment and dedicated software for the OBD connector, as well as millions of consumers who would no longer have a competitive choice in vehicle servicing and repair.”

The agreement will now need to be approved by the EP IMCO Committee before it is submitted for approval. If approved by the European Parliament, the new regulation will come into play from 1 September 2020.

 

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NEW HELLA HENGST FILTERS FOR WORKSHOPS

NEW HELLA HENGST FILTERS FOR WORKSHOPS

PROMOTION ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF HELLA

Hella Hengst portfolio

HELLA, a leading original equipment (OE) manufacturer and system supplier to the global automotive industry, has recently added antibacterial carbon activated cabin filters to the HELLA Hengst range of OE quality filters.

The 38 new-to-range (NTR) references are available for a variety of vehicles, including Ford Focus C-Max, Mercedes Benz A and C class, and Sprinter, as well as Audi A3, A4 and A5. The range also extends to the majority of VW and SEAT models. These additions, which will be available from early 2018, can be easily identified with the letters ‘LB’ marked on the end of the HELLA Hengst part numbers.

The main difference between the HELLA Hengst carbon activated cabin filter and the new antibacterial version is that while both have excellent odour reduction properties, the latter can also reduce allergy problems caused by contaminants such as bacteria and mould fungi, which enter the passenger compartment through the ventilation system, thus tackling one of the growing issues facing road users by directly addressing the health concerns of vehicle occupants.

Today, modern vehicles have cabin filters located in a variety of places and that are sometimes challenging to fit, making it difficult for installers to service or replace them. To further assist technicians, HELLA Hengst provides easy-to-follow installation instructions for all cabin filter types, including their locations, in every product pack.

As these additions demonstrate, the HELLA Hengst range is consistently growing and with a complete range of 1,500 premium quality filters across 90,000 applications for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, the company is showing its commitment to deliver the very best in terms of quality and availability to support the independent aftermarket.

For more information about the new HELLA Hengst filtration range, contact our sales team on 01295 662324 or email hella.hengst@hella.com

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HELLA ANNOUNCES NEW PLANT AND BUSINESS DEAL

HELLA ANNOUNCES NEW PLANT AND BUSINESS DEAL

Hella and BHAP tie the knot

AS PART OF growing demand for its vehicle lighting systems, Hella has opened a new production plant in Tianjin, China valued in low-to medium double-digit million euro.

The opening of the site follows a joint venture between Hella and Beijing Hainachuan Automotive Parts Co. Ltd. (BHAP) – a subsidiary of the BAIC Group, which will see both parties collaborate on LED headlamps, rear combination lamps, car body lighting and interior lighting under the newly formed entity, ‘Hella-BHAP’.

Markus Banner, Member of the Hella Management Board, said: “The new plant will strengthen our market position on one of the world’s major automotive markets. When extending our structures locally here on site, we are also very consciously counting on collaboration with successful Chinese partners such as BHAP. And that is because such cooperation means that we will be able to meet the needs of local customers even better than ever before.”

“Tianjin, where the new factory is located, is of strategic importance to the Chinese automotive industry as many of our key customers are located nearby”, said BHAP General Manager Chen Bao, “Hella is a perfect partner for BHAP, and we join hands to develop the automotive lighting business in this region and provide our clients with the best services and support,” adding that its cooperation will gradually expand into  electronics and aftermarket.

The new location employs100 staff with plans to extend this number to 250, along with its current site and 12,000 sq m production facility in due course.

 

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CLUBBING WITH THE TRADE

CLUBBING WITH THE TRADE

Mitch Cameron shows us around a relocated TPS Branch in Slough.

New logo on signage

You have probably noticed the quiet growth of trade clubs over the past decade. At first, these were a way for the VMs to get the independent garages that wouldn’t normally consider queuing at a franchise’s parts counter to use genuine parts.

The idea worked, and today some of the clubs are as busy, and as lean and sales-focussed, as any branch of an all-makes factor chain.

Take TPS for example. Launched 11 years ago the trade counter started its first month with four branches selling mostly dealer-only parts and bodyshop supplies. Today, it has a nationwide network of 75 centres and has recently been through a programme of modernisation and rebranding.

To find out what these changes mean in practical terms, we’ve headed west to the Berkshire town of Slough to have a look at a branch that has recently relocated to a more modern site.

When we arrive at the allotted (and very precise) time of 11.15, the first thing to notice is the large signs across the driveway. “We were one of the first to receive the new branding” said Branch Manager Mitch Cameron, adding that the new silver logo (TPS originally stood for Trade Parts Specialists, but now has no official designation) looks very professional when combined with the new corporate colour scheme.

The new look continues inside the building, as staff are wearing a redesigned uniform that matches the silver logo. Customers, according to Cameron, appreciate all of these tweaks. “We hear a lot from the front counter that it is a pleasant place to get parts from” he said.

Actually, a partition screen between the counter and the telesales floor has a dual role as on the reverse it has a large sales board, filled with targets broken down in ways that no doubt makes sense to the nine people rattling the phones.

FIGURES
While the board of figures doesn’t mean a lot to us, it is clearly very important to Cameron and the team as monthly targets are broken down into weekly, daily and even hourly productivity goals. Like most factor branches, there is a morning rush, which finishes just after 11 (hence the time we were given to arrive) followed be a spike in activity in the early afternoon, mostly from garages who want to make sure their parts are ordered ahead of a vehicle arriving first thing in the morning.

Part of the programme of branch modernisation is a phone system that will be able to monitor call volumes, lengths, number of outgoing and incoming and so on. “When we get it, it will give us a much better handle on what the peaks are during the day” explained Cameron, adding that, in common with the practice at most factors, each operator has their own list of ‘regular’ clients that they build up a relationship with and a few customers can be in touch with the branch ‘seven or eight times a day’. One of the team is a bodyshop specialist, so he deals with the panel beaters around the town.

9,000 items including many crash repair parts

Another relatively new system is a ‘gap analysis’ tool, something many readers in factors may well be familiar with. Simply put, it looks at what customers have been purchasing alongside what they haven’t been. For example, a customer might buy many sets of brake pads from the factor, but never any hydraulic fluid. The tool can pick things like this out and the sales rep can then find out why, and see if there is an offer that will persuade the garage owner to change their buying habits.

VAN FLEET
The branch’s fleet also deserves a mention. There are 11 vans, which is not untypical for a branch of this size. However, the branch has also acquired a small hatchback car (a VW of course) that has been converted to carry a small amount of stock and be used for client visits. “The idea of that is we have some part time drivers in the morning to cover the busy period. In the afternoon when it is a little quieter, we can send some of the telesales guys out so they can meet their customers face to face” explained Cameron. “This is something we’re building on, that we hadn’t been doing particularly before”. It has been said many times before, but there is never any substitute in the aftermarket for getting out and shaking hands with people.

The factor’s fleet also boasts a motor scooter for local runs. Traffic in the area immediately around the industrial estate can be pretty gnarly first thing in the morning and the bike is just the thing for small deliveries.

Some 9,000 lines are kept in the stockroom. Brake parts, oil and filters are the fastest moving lines as you might expect, although around 15 percent of stock holding relates to crash repair and body refinish (On our visit, the side panel for a Caddy van was waiting to be delivered to a customer). As you’d expect, TPS delivers many OE parts from the parent company, but in a move to compete with others it also has a second-tier line called ‘FourPlus’, which as the name implies are parts for vehicles old enough to be out of the warranty period. All products in the range come with a two-year guarantee and meet the VM’s quality assurance standards.

The phones start to get busy again as the afternoon rush begins, so its time for us to leave. However, if you are in Slough and you notice that there are a lot of Volkswagen Group cars on the road, now you’ll know how they stay there.

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ACEA DROPS A1/B1 AND INTRODUCES C5

ACEA DROPS A1/B1 AND INTRODUCES C5

Old specs to be discontinued as new oil sequence is introduced.

In the ever-changing world of modern lubricants, the ACEA A1/B1 standard is no more from December 1 2017 (though you can still sell products with this mark for another year). In its place is ACEA C54. So why the change? “In terms of the background to the removal of A1/B1 this grade reflects the trend towards low viscosity lubricants such as 0w20 which are becoming increasingly popular for newer modern cars, especially those from the Far East” explained David Wright, Chairman of industry body Vehicle Lubrication Standards (VLS).

“However, traditionally, the ‘A’ and ‘B’ ACEA sequences are reserved for vehicles without exhaust after treatment devices such as catalytic converters or diesel particulate filters. Today it is very rare that modern cars are sold, especially in Europe, without some form of exhaust after treatment device. So, the category A1/B1 became incongruous because most modern cars requiring low viscosity oils are fitted with exhaust after treatment devices” he explained.

We spoke to an industrial chemist at lubricant firm Comma, who confirmed that in a lot of cases, products that had been made to the old standard (or ‘sequence’ as it is known in
the lube business) were already compliant with the new one. Producers that had tested their products and found they met C5 were able to label them as such from December 2016 (and it became mandatory for new products produced since December 2017 to have the mark, though as mentioned you have a while to sell through anything that still has the A1/B1 label).

Our chat with the Comma chemist also confirmed some other good news, namely that as the makeup of the additive packs are broadly similar there shouldn’t be any significant price difference. Variations in lube prices are more likely to be down to the raw cost of products, rather than any different technology. It is also worth noting that most new C5 products will be have a high temperature viscosity of 20, rather than the more usual 30.

TOTAL QUARTZ
There are a few oils on the market ready to meet the new ACEA C5 technical standard. Among them is the new Total Quartz 0w20, which has been developed to meet a number of VM approvals,
including Volkswagen Group’s 508.00 ‘blue oil’ standard (despite the name, the product is in fact green). The criteria set down by VW Group were described by Total as being ‘severe’ as long-life oils can go more than 18,000 miles between changes.

Oil blender Comma is also among the first to market with a C5 oil. The firm’s Eco0-F 5w30 product needed no extra reformulation to meet the new standard, and is now sold bearing the mark. However, may of the major suppliers have yet to bring a C5 oil to range.

WHAT IS ACEA?
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (or Association des Constructeurs Européens d’Automobiles in French, hence the ACEA abbreviation) is a group that represents the 15 most important European motor vehicle manufacturers. The website oilspecifications.org notes that ACEA is the successor of CCMC (Comité des Constructeurs du Marché Commun). According to their statement, ACEA is an advocate for the automobile industry in Europe, representing manufacturers of passenger cars, vans, trucks and buses with production sites in Europe.

Among various other activities ACEA defines specifications for engine oils so called ACEA Oil Sequences. The sequences are usually updated every few years to include the latest developments in engine and lubricant technology. ACEA itself does not approve the oils, they set the standards and oil manufacturer’s may make performance claims for their products if those satisfy the relevant requirements. According to fuel supplier Infineum, there are a number of revised tests for C5 oil, compared with previous standards. These include tests for the effects of biodiesel and high temp, high shear rates.

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ELECTRIC VEHICLES VS THE AFTERMARKET

ELECTRIC VEHICLES VS THE AFTERMARKET

What challenges does the lubricant industry face? With impending bans on traditional vehicles and increasing market share of EVs

At the end of last year, the UK media reported a sixth month consecutive decline in sales of diesel cars. UK Government’s uncertainty about how to treat vehicles once classed as ‘the green option’ has led to consumer caution about buying cars that might be subject to higher taxation in future.

In July 2017, the UK Government declared that from 2040, sale of motor vehicles powered with internal combustion engines, petrol or diesel, would be banned. This followed similar announcements made by the French Government earlier that year. Even Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) followed suit with Volvo and more recently Jaguar Land-Rover announcing the end of petrol and diesel car sales from 2019 and 2020 respectively.

The impact on the automotive sector, its fuel and lubricant sales, as electric vehicle sales increase cannot be underestimated.

Barclays’ analysts reported that if electric cars with greater efficiency increased to one third of the current automotive sector, this would cut global oil consumption by 3.5 million barrels a day by 2025. This is roughly the equivalent of Iran’s current supply of oil at 3.8 million barrels a day that is the Organisation of Exporting Petroleum Countries (OPEC)‘s third largest member.

Globally, demand for oil is still growing. In their 2017 outlook OPEC signalled that the medium-term demand for oil for the period 2016–2022 would increase by 6.9 million barrels a day, rising from 95.4 million barrels in 2016 to around 102.3 million barrels a day by 2022. Developing countries are expected to account for the majority of this increase, with demand expected to increase here by 43.2 million barrels a day in 2016 to 49.6 million barrels a day by 2022.

A cut in automotive demand for oil would effectively wipe out half the expected increase in global oil demand by 2022. But globally, the demand for oil would still increase.

Transportation is expected to remain the largest consumer of oil products, both fuel and lubricants, well into 2040. Much of the sector faces weak competition from alternate sources of fuel and lubricants although improved efficiencies, the rise of hybrid or electric vehicles and a tightening of energy policies will help to decelerate increases in the demand for oil from this sector.

WHAT IS ALLOWED?
Details of the French and UK Governments’ decision to ban conventional internal combustion engine vehicles is still vague. Will hybrid vehicles still be allowed? What about heavy goods vehicles or diesel powered public vehicles such as taxis? Some analysts believe that Governments might have kicked an emissions issue aligned to poor air quality into the long grass. The UK faced with the prospect of fines by the European Union over the quality of its air in cities, needed to be seen to be doing something positive about the issue.

Today’s vehicles are cleaner and leaner than those of ten or twenty years ago. Exhaust after treatment devices, both catalytic converters and diesel particulate filters, have removed many post-combustion harmful gases. Car scrappage schemes promoted by both Government and car manufacturers have incentivised owners to replace ageing vehicles with more modern cars. Changes to car taxation duties reward cars with lower emissions.

Electric cars might not be the panacea for everyone. Limited battery range and the high cost of lithium power cells means that extended ranges between charges of 300 miles or more are not yet a reality. As local town run-arounds or shopper cars, electric vehicles provide a viable alternative to conventional vehicles for journeys typified by short local stops. For longer commuter journeys then electric vehicles alone do not currently provide a realistic solution in the absence of a national and comprehensive electric charging network.

Much needed investment in electric charging stations along major motorway routes and trunk roads still remains in short supply. The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) gave evidence to UK Government’s Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill Committee in November arguing against proposals to mandate electric vehicle charge points in petrol stations and motorway service areas. Although subsidies exist for domestic installation, the Bill proposes that a larger commercial network of charging points would be paid for by fuel retailers who would, by implication, pass the charges back to motorists. Government would not fund such a scheme.

REQUIREMENTS
In terms of engine oil and lubrication requirements, hybrid vehicles act in a slightly different manner to more conventional vehicles. A distinguishing feature of hybrid electric vehicle is that the conventional engine switches off when the power available from the electrical cell exceeds that needed to propel the vehicle. This results in lower operating temperatures and higher stress during stop/start for the conventional engine, which could lead to increased sludge and varnish than that of conventional engines.

What of service intervals? In the UK, service intervals of 12,000 miles are usually expected by motorists. In America, some dealers are claiming that hybrid vehicles require oil changes every 5,000 miles or 10,000 miles if using a synthetic, more typical of conventional cars sold in that country. The move to lower viscosity oils could also confuse matters if a motorist has been used to using a 5w30 engine oil in their hybrid ten years ago and today the same, but newer, model of their much-loved car requires a lower viscosity lubricant of 0w20 or less.

For the aftermarket, although electric cars might prove a challenge today, a hybrid car is a more popular and obvious choice for motorists. They provide the assurance of extended ranges for longer journeys similar to that of conventional vehicles, with the benefit of lower emissions under town centre driving conditions.

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FEATURE: HAYNES’ LONG ROAD TO A DIGITAL FUTURE

FEATURE: HAYNES’ LONG ROAD TO A DIGITAL FUTURE

Speaking to CAT after the Haynes shareholders AGM, J Haynes has admitted that selling digital manuals through bricks-and-mortar accessory shops is a difficult concept for retailers.

“I’m not quite sure they do [understand how to sell the cards] quite yet. One of the elements that we’re putting together is card that retailers can sell in the store, which contains a code that the customer can redeem for a digital manual” he said, adding that while many customers will continue to want paper books, a growing number will prefer the info on their phone, tablet or laptop. “What we want to do is to get the information into as many drivers’ hands as possible” he explained.

 

Haynes is a firm that has grappled with the method and need to modernise. “I think Eddie [Bell, Group Chairman] outlined at the AGM that we are still a business in turnaround” he said, adding that the publisher continues to have ‘a clear focus on content and data’.

In December 2016, Haynes disposed of publishing and printing buildings in Australia, and more recently sold one of its two decommissioned US freehold properties in Nashville. The Group’s remaining freehold properties in Nashville, Tennessee and Sparkford, Somerset, are presently being marketed for sale. The cash generated from the sales will offset the costs associated with acquiring Swindon-based lubricant data firm OATS, for which it paid a total of £2.4m and Tunbridge-based E3 Technical in a deal valued at £4.72m.

There will be more on Haynes’ strategy in an upcoming issue of CAT.

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100 REDUNDANCIES PLANNED AS AA RESTRUCTURES

100 REDUNDANCIES PLANNED AS AA RESTRUCTURES

A hundred management, admin and support roles are to go at the AA, plus the closure of the National Training Centre at Melton Mobray, according to documents seen today by CAT. Roadside patrols will not be affected.

In a memo to staff dated January 10 2018, the AA said: “We are today announcing a series of proposals involving restructuring of management and administration in a number of functions across the AA, with the exception of our frontline delivery teams in roadside operations and contact centres”. The memo added that the proposals are aimed at ‘reorganising and focusing accountability on our emerging strategic priorities’, as well as reducing ‘layers of management’ in order to reduce cost to fund frontline services.

Formed in Edwardian times, the AA has been struggling with the level of debt for years. In 2007 private equity group Acromas bought the company, but sold it in 2014 in a complex ‘accelerated float’ management buy-in, with £1bn of backing from 10 investors. The company was publically listed, but saddled with £2.7bn of debt. Share value dropped in August 2017 following the firing of Chief Executive Bob Mackenzie for gross misconduct.

Paul Grafton, Regional Organiser for the GMB Union said; “The closure of national training centre will reduce structured training and in our view impact on quality of service delivered by the patrol force”.

“All these cuts are a direct result of the unsustainable levels of debt left by the previous private equity owners” he said, adding: “It looks as if the latest activity is to squeeze the last drop out of the business before franchising”.

Figures show that the costs of financing the debts are £185m per annum in the last published accounts. Servicing the debt took up 66 percent of the Operating Profit of £284m for the year ending 31st January 2017.

In addition, the union says that the AA’s pension deficit is £622m, which in pound note terms is nearly double the £345m deficit that brought the demise of BHS.

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THE COMPLETE BATTERY SOLUTION FROM HELLA

THE COMPLETE BATTERY SOLUTION FROM HELLA

PROMOTION ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF HELLA

With the UK currently enduring some fairly hostile weather conditions, for the country’s motorists, it’s the battery that takes the brunt. This fact was underlined by the RAC as it issued a stark warning this week stating that they expected to receive more than 3,000 battery related callouts on the first day back after Christmas alone.

The weather is however an opportunity for HELLA customers as its supply agreement with ECOBAT Battery Technologies ensures that the HELLA battery offering meets the challenge, because alongside excellent availability, it is both comprehensive and incorporates the latest products to reflect current technology. In addition, with the market-leading Hella Gutmann Solutions (HGS) mega macs range of diagnostic tools, which possess the software required to correctly install the batteries used for start/stop enabled vehicles, HELLA has all the necessary elements to provide a full battery replacement programme.

Bearing in mind that battery related issues remain the most common cause of breakdown, whatever the season, battery health should be a priority for workshops. Therefore, as a matter of course, technicians should carry out a battery check on every vehicle that enters their premises, which allows preventative maintenance to be undertaken. Alongside this practical action, technicians should be recommending that customers who use their vehicles infrequently or make only short journeys, charge the battery on a regular basis, which will substantially reduce the risk of electrical related breakdown.

Due to the competitive nature of the sector, proactivity is the watchword for batteries, so it is vital for factors to make sure they are supplying the correct replacement for the vehicle, which is why an accurate application guide is a must. However, it is good practice for counter staff to check whether any extra high demand electrical equipment has been added to the vehicle, as this could affect the specification.

As the number of vehicles incorporating a start/stop function will only increase, the demand for AGM/EFB batteries is projected to grow rapidly and these must be installed correctly to prevent their premature failure. Unlike the traditional SLI battery, AGM/EFB batteries require a specific fitting procedure and the use of a specialised tool to integrate them into the vehicle’s complicated electronic system. Moreover, as vehicles become evermore reliant on electronics and the demands on the battery subsequently increase, the correct diagnosis of the cause of electrical related issues is vital.

This is where HGS users benefit, as all mega macs diagnostic tools have the capability to introduce an AGM/EFB battery into the battery management system (BMS) of a start/stop enabled vehicle, to correctly initialise the replacement. Without this process, the battery will fail prematurely.

Further advantages come with their ability to diagnose other battery related problems, such as issues with the IBS (intelligent battery sensor), which is a vital component in the BMS and, will sometimes also need replacing. Usefully, in addition to its aftermarket range, HELLA is an original equipment (OE) IBS supplier, so has particular expertise with this increasingly used product.

In short, as a respected supplier of premium quality components and diagnostic equipment, HELLA’s battery programme naturally reflects the requirements of the market and provides the solution technicians need to undertake every battery related challenge.

For more information about the OE quality products available from HELLA, please call customer services on: 01295 662400 or email hella.sales@hella.com

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