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EURO STANDARDS IN A CHANGING EUROPE

PROMOTED: BM Catalysts’ Commercial Director, Mark Blinston writes on the subject of changing standards

 

Mark Blinston

Improving air quality by reducing harmful emissions has been a priority for most for as long as many of us can remember. For the UK automotive sector, the drive for emissions reduction has been primarily powered by EU legislation since 1970. Euro emissions standards, or Euro levels, were introduced in 1992 to limit the acceptable levels of tailpipe emissions of cars and light commercial vehicles in order to reduce their adverse impact on both health and the environment. With the possibility of leaving the EU in just a matter of weeks, it remains uncertain whether there would be significant changes with the emissions standards set for the country.

Euro emissions standards have been vital in reducing the permissible levels of harmful pollutants emitted within exhaust gases, with each tightening standard prompting huge strides forward in the development of new emissions control technology. Euro emissions standards are now at their most restrictive iteration, Euro 6, with all passenger vehicles both diesel and petrol required to meet the lowest pollutant levels set by the legislation to date. Whilst the NOx limit for petrol cars was retained at 60 mg/km, the allowable NOx level amongst diesel cars dropped tremendously to a maximum of 80 mg/km, in comparison to the Euro 5 requirement of 180 mg/km.

UNDERSTANDING

It is important that people have a sound understanding of Euro levels as more and more cities across Europe have already introduced, or are beginning to adopt, ‘Low Emission Zones’ (LEZ) in an effort to eliminate badly polluting vehicles. LEZs are ‘clean air’ zones that restrict the type of vehicle that can enter defined areas at certain times of the day, with hefty penalties and fines in place for non-compliant motors. Although this initiative is becoming more common in major European cities, motorists need to be aware that different Euro levels and requirements are set for each zone. In London for example, the LEZ operates mostly across Greater London, whilst the ’Ultra Low Emission Zone’ (ULEZ) covers the same congestion charge areas of Central London. It is a common misconception that the two are interchangeable, so drivers are advised to always double check before driving through zones they are unfamiliar with to avoid heavy charges. London’s ULEZ require that cars meet a minimum of Euro 4 emissions standards for petrol and Euro 6 for diesel.

Vehicle owners should also be aware that it is a legal requirement to only fit replacement emissions control devices that are correctly approved for the vehicle and to the vehicle’s corresponding Euro level. A replacement part cannot be approved to a lower Euro level than that of the original vehicle. For example, if the vehicle is Euro 6, then the replacement catalyst or DPF must also be approved to Euro 6.   Fitting a Euro 5 part to a Euro 6 vehicle would be illegal.

CATALOGUING

The cataloguing of aftermarket parts can be complex and many consumers remain unaware of the Euro level of their vehicle. Some catalytic converters and DPFs may look physically identical to one another but be very different in terms of what they are legally approved for sale to fit. It is the responsibility of everyone from the manufacturer, to the distributor and even the garage to ensure that the part in question is of the correct Euro level for the vehicle.

However, should the UK leave the EU as intended, it is possible that emissions targets and vehicle requirements may change. According to the UK Home Office, the Department for Transport (DfT) will take over the application and implementation of CO2 standards for cars and vans registered in the UK. UK-specific targets will be implemented, but they are expected to be at least as ambitious as the current EU standards. UK registrations and level of compliance, on the other hand, will be monitored and imposed by the Secretary of State for Transport.

For BM Catalysts as aftermarket manufacturers, we remain responsible for developing products that conform to the legislative requirements and that will not change. As Europe’s leading manufacturer of high-quality aftermarket catalytic converters, DPFs and front pipes, BM Catalysts is committed to ensuring that standards are met, with our homologated catalysts and DPFs being compliant with the appropriate European legislative requirements. We also invest heavily in our online catalogue with the aim of providing as much information as possible when seeking out the correct parts for a vehicle and we have a technical helpline available should further advice be required. Whether the UK leaves the EU or not, it is important to understand that the quality of our products will remain unchanged and will continue to exceed expectations.

For more information, visit: www.bmcatalysts.com

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KERRIDGE ACQUIRES MAM SOFTWARE GROUP IN CASH DEAL

Software developer Kerridge Commercial Systems (KCS) has acquired component cataloguing firm Mam Software Group. Terms of the deal are a straightforward cash acquisition, with a reported $154.2m (approx £123m) being paid for the firm.

READ: Comline partners with MAM and EMI+

“This all-cash transaction provides MAM Software’s stockholders with a premium over the pre-announcement market price of their shares, and we believe it will allow our team to increase our focus on long-term success that will benefit customers, employees and partners. Together with KCS, we can offer a broader portfolio of solutions to our customers globally,” said Mike Jamieson, MAM Software CEO.

READ: TecDoc looks to the clouds in venture with software specialist

Cash deal agreed to acquire Autocat+ provider

“We have long believed that a partnership between MAM Software and KCS would create a range of significant strategic opportunities,” said Ian Bendelow, CEO of Kerridge Commercial Systems. “MAM has significant traction in the automotive aftermarket sector that augments our solution offering, and this combination also will expand our U.S. market presence.

 

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OSRAM ADVISE SHAREHOLDERS TO ACCEPT AMS BID

OE manufacturer Osram has advised shareholders to accept a deal offered by Austrian semiconductor firm AMS.

The offer of €38.50 per share is greater than an earlier offer made by P.E firms Bain Capital and Carlisle, plus Osram’s board believes that AMS’ experience with microchip development will benefit the company in the future.

READ: NEW €4bn+ BID FOR OSRAM

However, not everyone is convinced. One of Germany’s largest trade unions had already rejected the bid and in a joint reasoned statement, Osram’s board has raised concerns over where the new company will be based and be structured.

READ: OSRAM LATEST: WORKERS UNION REJECTS AMS BID

Osram recommends shareholders accept takeover bid

Taking the view that ‘The financial attractiveness of the offer was to be weighted higher than points of criticism’. Osram has recommended that the offer be accepted.  “Overall, the Management Board and the majority of the Supervisory Board regard the strategy pursued by ams as promising in many respects, particularly with regard to the further development of the Opto Semiconductors business unit. By merging with AMS, this business unit could benefit from the development of innovative sensor and photonics solutions, and the use of established customer access, among other things” the company said in a statement.

 

 

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ALLIANCE ACQUIRES ANOTHER BRACE OF FACTORS

Business group Alliance Automotive UK has continued its buying spree with the acquisition of South Wales-based FMP and Glaze Autoparts of Wolverhampton. 

READ: ALLIANCE AUTOMOTIVE UK ACQUIRES ASMF

Both companies were existing members of Alliance Automotive’s GroupAuto buying group. Glaze Autoparts was incorporated in 2000 by Mark Leason and Roy Blundell was MD at the time of acquisition. 

READ: RAPID GROUP FOUNDER SOLD TO GROUPAUTO PARENT

FMP (originally Foreign Motor Parts) was originally founded in 1996, although the company in its current form dates to 2004. Founded by Neil Melmoth, the business had several branches covering an area between Swansea and Port Talbot with around 40 staff and 16 vans.  

Glaze Autoparts now wholly owned by AG

These latest deals brings the number of UK motor factor businesses acquired by the group in 2019 to 14 and around 30 locations.

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PROMO: BM CATALYSTS, PARIS-BOUND FOR EQUIP AUTO 2019

PROMOTIONAL CONTENT ON BEHALF OF BM CATALYSTS

BM Catalysts will be making its way to Paris, France for the 25th Equip Auto trade show this October to showcase its world-class manufacturing and partner-first approach to business. Following its recent successful attendance at Automechanika Birmingham earlier this year, the company aims to sustain the same positivity and engagement across the channel through the much-anticipated event.

BM Catalyst’s 2019 stand

With the expected presence of big industry names and visitors from over 50 countries, the renowned trade event is the perfect avenue for BM Catalysts to also exhibit its expanding market-leading product range. Since Equip Auto 2017, BM Catalysts has released a total of 307 new high-quality aftermarket parts into the European market, which includes a number of Euro 6 references. This range expansion has increased French car parc coverage by over 14 million since the last show in 2017, and accounts for 31% of the staggering 44 million more European vehicles covered by BM Catalysts’ range additions over the past two years alone.

In line with Equip Auto’s “repairing today, preparing tomorrow” theme for this year, BM Catalysts will be available throughout the duration of the show to discuss the future of emissions and technology, and offer insight into how the company can help prepare businesses for these changes by having access to Europe’s widest range of high-quality aftermarket catalysts and DPFs and long-term partnership solutions.

New strapline will appear on promotional material.

Commenting on the manufacturer’s participation in the event, Mark Blinston, Commercial Director at BM Catalysts stated: “This year’s event will be our seventh Equip Auto attendance and we’ve witnessed some tremendous growth over the years. We’re delighted with the increased interest and positive feedback we continue to receive from the French market, so we’re excited to be attending Equip Auto again in October. With emissions and Euro level compliance remaining a big talking point across Europe, Equip Auto is a great platform for us to demonstrate our expertise and the level of commitment we put into ensuring we always exceed the aftermarket’s expectations on quality, whether that be by investing in the latest state-of-the-art machinery, to ensuring our products are fully compliant with necessary legislation, and everything else in between.”

 

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CHARGING NETWORK FLAWED

Last month it was widely reported that the number of charging points had overtaken the number of petrol stations in the UK. There was a lot of fanfare and ministers, no doubt relieved to be able to say something about a subject that isn’t Brexit, were queuing up to express their delight. 

READ: Could factor fleets ever go electric?

Over 50 different brands of charging points are in the UK

Unfortunately, if you delve into the data a little deeper you’ll see that the picture is not quite as rosy. The numbers, researched by charge point finder Zap-Map belie the fact that there are around 50 separate charging providers each with their own pricing structures. Although a ruling last year means that any can be accessed with a debit card, most users will have a contract of some sort with one or another of the charging providers, which may or may not have any points in the same county where the motorist requires volts. Another depressing stat from the map company is that at any given time roughly a quarter of the chargers are out of use. 

“How the hell are we expected to get to carbon neutral when the charging network is so random, inconsistent and generally awful to use?” tweeted Connor Twomey, Head of PR for Mitsubishi in the UK. Mitsubishi produce the Outlander PHEV, the best selling plug-in hybrid car in the country. 

Conservative MP Bill Wiggin tabled a Private Members’ Bill in an attempt to regulate the payment system. EV users in the UK are currently disadvantaged compared with our European neighbours due to a lack of an interoperable payment system for EV charging” he told a parliament in late 2018. 

READ: GOV. ANNOUNCES INCREASE IN FUNDING FOR EV CHARGING

While it is argued that most people with a plug-in hybrid will charge them at home, so a complex infrastructure isn’t needed, we’d suggest that the number of people who own their own property that has both parking and is able to have a charging point connected may not be as high as Whitehall thinks…

 

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BUYING IN TO A FRANCHISE

Business can be tough for small and local, independent firms. Despite the freedoms associated with running a business that is at liberty to do whatever it likes in terms of appearance, business model, etc., there isn’t the financial assistance or technical information that a bigger brand, franchiser or buying group can provide.

One business owner who has had a thorough experience with an automotive garage franchise is Kamran Saleem, now owner of the independent MotorServ UK service centre business. Prior to running his current venture, Saleem operated a branch of the iAuto garage network. Describing the initial set-up of the branch, Saleem said: “The actual delivery and installs and everything of equipment and fixtures for the garage, that actually ran very smoothly and we were very happy with what was going on at the start of the franchise, it was brilliant. They provided a lot of support.”

Saleem and a technician in the workshop

Through the iAuto network, Saleem, whose background was in automotive sales and ‘knew as much about car servicing as the man in the street’, was able to learn the ins and outs of the industry. “It gave me the insight, all the trade secrets, background etc. So that’s probably a year’s worth of experience in a week,” he said. At the time, Saleem was paying five percent of turnover as a franchise fee, as well as some fees for software licences.

Marketing

Initially, Saleem recalled that things like supplies, kit, trade contacts, branding and more were ‘spot on’, but issues started to arise after the set-up. “When we actually opened, day one, it was like: ‘okay, how do we get the cars in now?’,” he said. Sales did not pick up substantially, and Saleem noted that a lack of marketing by the franchise did not help. “What they needed to do is focus on marketing, focus on sales, focus on this or that, but they were too busy selling franchises that they were over run.” Plus, Saleem claims that his own efforts to market the business were not heeded quickly as all the initiatives needed approval which too long to obtain.

Eventually, Saleem decided to leave the franchise, which was a negative experience in itself, requiring the need for a BFA lawyer. “The franchise agreement, they’re heavily weighted towards the franchisor,” said Saleem. “There aren’t a lot of lawyers around that will actually take on a franchise agreement that’s written properly.” iAuto agreed to terminate the contract, but Saleem claims it took ‘about nine months in total to get out’, and ‘ended up costing me probably £70k in costs and loss in income and sales growth during the period all this was going on’.

Programmes

However, Wendy Williamson, Chief Executive of the IAAF, makes a distinction between franchises and garage programmes and believes that the latter are beneficial for the industry. “To me, the definition of a ‘franchise’ is a business that is absolutely run to a very tight set of rules and regulations,” she said. “And I think it’s not what we see in the aftermarket. We see garage programmes where the independent garage still has their independence, they are still Joe Bloggs independent garage…”

Williamson was once involved in the Unipart Car Care Centre scheme, which provided a ‘much more professional image for the garage,’ she explained. “These days, many of our key distributors offer similar programmes with UAN, Groupauto, UK Parts Alliance, ECP, all having very similar programmes which I’m a big fan of and still think they are absolutely key to giving garages as much support as they possibly can,” she said.

Ultimately, when it comes to pros versus cons, Williamson notes that: “I wouldn’t necessarily really see that many cons with these programmes”, and thinks challenges facing the independent aftermarket such as connected vehicles and data access mean that: “the more that the independent sector can support each other right the way through the supply chain, the better it is for the whole sector.”

There are benefits to being being in a group or franchise, but talking to fellow businesses within the industry might help.

“Don’t necessarily rely upon the data that you’re given by the franchisor. Look at the other franchisees, if they exist; you’re going to be in their shoes after all,” said Saleem.

“So make sure you’ve got access to them. And if you are blocked access to the other franchisees or you’re not given the opportunity to discuss things … then there might be something up”  he concluded.Buis

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FORD-BACKED QUICK LANE OPENS THIRD BRANCH

A third branch of Quick Lane has opened in Bracknell. The opening follows on from branches in Prestwich and Reading which opened earlier in 2019.

The autocentre is owned by Ford and has around 1,000 branches around the world and the UK model is based on a hard franchise

READ: RUNNING A FRANCHISED WORKSHOP: THE PERILS AND THE POSSIBILITIES

The 7,527 sq ft. site was previously a branch of trade counter Yesss Electical. Now retooled as an autocentre, it is operated by the same franchisee as the Reading branch.

John Dines, UK Operations Director for Quick Lane, said: “Quick Lane Bracknell is ideally situated to deliver convenient automotive servicing and maintenance that fits around the busy lives of local people, giving them back the one thing they value most – time.”

Quick Lane continues to invest heavily in its franchise network across Europe. Its Reading location recently invested £40k into new MOT equipment and the business has plans to further expand its network in the UK and Germany in the coming months.

Quick Lane Bracknell

 

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SHUTTERS DOWN ON THREE ANDREW PAGE BRANCHES

 Three branches of Andrew Page have closed, with the accounts and most of the staff being merged into nearby Euro Car Parts locations.

Oldham, Reading and Southampton branches are affected. Of these, Southampton is the newest having been opened to ‘fill the void’ left in the wake of rival Unipart Automotive’s collapse in 2014.

READ: ANDREW PAGE AND ECP TRAINING PROGRAMMES MERGE

A statement from Euro Car Parts read: “As part of our ongoing commitment to help make to our offering even better, we’ve identified some opportunities to merge a number of neighbouring Andrew Page and Euro Car Parts branches. These integrated branches will cover the same areas with more vans, sales advisors and warehouse teams, providing our customers with consistent delivery times, better stock availability, improved efficiency and new support services”.

READ: TEN ANDREW PAGE BRANCHES CLOSE FOLLOWING ‘OPERATIONAL REVIEW’

“We expect most staff in these branches to transfer to a nearby location and services to our customers will be the same, with only the dispatch point changing. Any employees affected have been informed”.

Andrew Page was acquired by Euro Car Parts when the former went into administration in 2016.

Andrew Page Southampton on opening in 2014

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OSRAM LATEST: WORKERS UNION REJECTS AMS BID

German workers’ union IG Metall has rejected the recent €4.3 billion euro takeover offer by sensor firm AMS for lighting company Osram, according to a report by Reuters.

A spokeswoman reportedly said that ‘the strategy behind AMS’s offer is still not convincing.’

The rejection comes after Osram reported AMS’s €38.50 per-share offer on August 12th and stated that ‘the financing concept presented appears binding and viable.’ Osram confirmed it was in talks with AMS shortly after.

It is not the first time that IG Metall – which has more than 2.2 million members – has voiced opposition to the deal. On 24th July IG Metall released a statement opposing a ‘potential takeover of Osram by AMS’*, suggesting that the offer has been in talks for some time. At the time, IG Metall stated that ‘the necessary financing is absolutely irresponsible’* and ‘there are signs that the AMS offer will break up and massively downsize the company to create ‘synergies’. That is not acceptable to us.’*

OSRAM HQ

IG Metall’s rejection is the latest development in bids to acquire Osram. In early July, Osram received a public takeover offer from private equity firms Bain Capital and The Carlyle Group for €35 per share – approximately €4 billion in enterprise value.

*quotes indirect – translated by Google

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