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TOYOTA GB ADAPTS PARTS SUPPLY DURING PANDEMIC

TOYOTA GB ADAPTS PARTS SUPPLY DURING PANDEMIC

Toyota GB has introduced a new parts-sourcing contact address to support critical workers, following a temporary downsizing of its aftersales workforce.

See press release below for details:

“Currently, the majority of the Toyota and Lexus Centres are able to support critical workers across the UK, however they will be operating with reduced staffing during this period.

As a result, TGB are introducing an additional centralised parts supply contact for all UK Mechanical Repair Operations and Body Repair Operations.

Should you require assistance identifying an operational localised Genuine Toyota and Lexus parts supplier, please contact PARTS-TOYOTA-LEXUS@MSXI.COM with details of your needs and location and we will swiftly provide you with a number of parts sourcing options to support.

As we outlined, Toyota GB (PLC) is operating an emergency, including NHS, and critical workers policy on all parts orders, so would respectfully ask you to ensure that your customer meets this criteria

 In addition, TGB will require you supply the following details

  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is supplied
  • Vehicle Off Road (VOR) status
  • Parts List (Parts Quantity cannot exceed repair quantity per vehicle)
  • Reason/evidence supplied to establish emergency, including NHS, and critical workers i.e. ID Card, mail from work address etc”

ENDS

 

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FLEET MANAGEMENT WITH A MODERN TOUCH

FLEET MANAGEMENT WITH A MODERN TOUCH

Hot industry news earlier this year was an £85 million cash injection from auto giants Hyundai and Kia into London-based Arrival, an electric vehicle start-up whose cubist Gen2.0-EV van is tipped for adoption by a raft of huge logistics firms including Royal Mail and UPS.

It’s a significant breakthrough for commercial vehicles, which have lagged somewhat behind their passenger counterparts in terms of electrification and autonomous capability development. The high-profile tie-up could also be a promising sign of things to come for smaller fleet operators – particularly factors – in the UK, who are engaged in a constant battle with rising fuel costs, wage allowances and insurance premiums, as well as ever-stricter emissions regulations and MOT requirements.

Take Euro Car Parts as an example. As of August 2019, the Tamworth-based distributor has around 2750 cars and vans running between its 16 distribution centres, and making around 60,000 parts deliveries daily from its 200-plus branches. It’s quite an operation, and the man in charge of coordinating it, Ted Sakyi, said the key to things running smoothly is that “suppliers and their customers continue to talk to each other ”. It would have to be – the demand for ultra-fast delivery, which I call the ‘Amazonisation’ of today’s e-commerce sector, means customers (including garages) aren’t as willing to twiddle their thumbs for days on end while crucial components are delivered, and communication issues are less excusable than they were in the pre-smartphone era.

JUST IN TIME

Darren Wykes, Managing Director of nationwide supplier Motor Parts Direct (MPD), concurred: “The simple question of ‘when is it needed?’ is now a priority to avoid over-servicing customers.” MPD’s fleet consists of a mixture of vehicle makes and sizes and serves 128 stores across England and Wales, but is equally dependent on the justin-time business model that ensures no fuel or time is wasted by its delivery drivers. “Each branch carefully manages its own logistics, bearing in mind customer demands as regards arranging each delivery schedule,” Wykes added, ‘ensuring van runs are done in the most efficient manner’. Unnecessary delays brought about by garages returning parts or calling the factor out multiple times in short succession can threaten the firm’s ability to meet its quotas.

So how long does a factor of this size allow for each call-out? Wykes considers a case-by-case approach to be best practice: “At present, in line with competitors, there are no hard and fast rules. It is down to the branch team to apply a common sense approach.” It’s unlikely that a factor would consider sending a van and driver out for an hour just to deliver a £10 part to a remote workshop, but would more likely incorporate that delivery into a larger route with multiple stops.

ECP’s Sakyi elaborated: “Ultimately, we want to help independent garages deliver top quality repairs for their customers with the shortest possible wait-times. This means both parties need to communicate effectively – us asking whether they need anything and, if so, what time they need it, and them letting us know what they need, where possible, ahead of time.” The message is that efficiency is a two-way street, and factors can’t be held accountable for disorganisation on the customer’s part. 

ELECTRIFICATION

But just as important as timing deliveries right is considering which vans to use for them. ECP recently bought 300 diesel-fuelled Peugeot Partner vans, showing a commitment – at least in the medium term – to combustion power. Currently, there are only a couple of alternatively fuelled commercial vehicles on sale suited to the firm’s needs, which offer usable ranges and relatively low purchase costs, but would entail such significant investment in supporting infrastructure that they are presently an unrealistic option for any large distribution firm. Sakyi said: “While battery technology and charging infrastructure are still developing and improving, higher-mileage job roles will be best-served by the newest, cleanest diesel and petrol options.” He added, however, that ‘electric vans are already suitable for relatively low-mileage job roles, provided there is access to adequate charging facilities’. As electric commercial vehicles become more accessible and their ranges increase, it’s likely that factors will start to explore their suitability for use in urban areas, particularly where low-emission zones restrict the use of combustion engines.

For now, though, MPD’s Wykes said that “no suitable electric vans are available bearing in mind range and re-charge times,” adding that the Essex-based company is currently trialling a Nissan e-NV200, and looking forward to an electric version of Citroen’s Berlingo arriving next year. ‘Van choice is decided based on various criteria, such as fuel efficiency, overall running costs and initial purchase price,’ he said.

Amanda Brandon, Director of Fleet Services for the British Vehicle Renting and Leasing Association, acknowledged the issues. “The lack of availability of suitable electric vehicles, inadequate charging infrastructure and significant up-front cost differential are all factors affecting the uptake of electric in the CV sector,” she said, echoing industry bosses who bemoan the slow roll-out of chargers and tax incentives. “In the van sector, the consensus of opinion is that the future is electric, but this transition will not happen overnight until the issues of availability, affordability and access to charging facilities are resolved.”

It remains to be seen how firms like EPC and MPD will be affected by the expansion of London’s ULEZ and the creation of low-emission zones in cities like Bristol and Oxford. One thing’s for sure, though – it’s unlikely the commercial vehicle parc will look the same in 10 years time.

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BREAKING: LIGHT VEHICLE MOT EXTENDED BY SIX MONTHS

BREAKING: LIGHT VEHICLE MOT EXTENDED BY SIX MONTHS

Car van and motorcycle MOTs are to be extended by six months from March 30th.

According to DVSA, vehicle owners will be granted a six-month exemption from MOT testing, enabling them to continue to travel to work where this absolutely cannot be done from home, or shop for necessities.

All cars, vans and motorcycles which usually would require an MOT test will be exempted from needing a test from 30 March. Vehicles must be kept in a roadworthy condition, and garages will remain open for essential repair work. Drivers can be prosecuted if driving unsafe vehicles.

READ: CORONAVIRUS: FACTORS TO REMAIN OPEN

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We must ensure those on the frontline of helping the nation combat COVID19 are able to do so.

“Allowing this temporary exemption from vehicle testing will enable vital services such as deliveries to continue, frontline workers to get to work, and people get essential food and medicine.

“Safety is key, which is why garages will remain open for essential repair work.”

Legislation will be introduced on March 30 and will come into immediate effect for 12 months, following a short consultation with key organisations. Drivers will still need to get their vehicle tested until the new regulations come into place, if they need to use it.

If you can’t get an MoT that’s due because you’re in self-isolation, the Department for Transport is working with insurers and the police to ensure people aren’t unfairly penalised for things out of their control.

Practical driving tests and annual testing for lorries, buses and coaches have been suspended for up to three months.

 

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CORONAVIRUS AND THE AFTERMARKET

CORONAVIRUS AND THE AFTERMARKET

Note: This article was written in mid February 2020, when the world was a very different place… – Editor

 

You will have heard all about it: the virus that migrated from species to species in China before spreading around the world. Thousands of column inches have been written, mostly about the human cost and how it has affected the way that people meet and travel, but how will it affect the parts supply chain, and more specifically the aftermarket?

Here’s what we know for sure: factories in China closed as usual for the Chinese New Year celebrations, but didn’t reopen for weeks afterwards. When they eventually did start up again, there were reports of many of them having a fraction of the usual number of staff, due in no small part to many being in isolation, be it voluntarily or at the behest of the state.

Then of course the virus spread, with huge tracts of Asia, including South Korea and Japan, implementing an array of preventative measures to control the outbreak. Closer to home, Italy was accused of under-reporting known cases and parts-producing towns in the country’s ‘motor valley’ have been belatedly shut down.

READ: BREMBO SHUTS ITALIAN SITES AMID CORONAVIRUS CRISIS

SHY RESPONSE

Yet when we asked companies who must surely be exposed to supplier shortages, the answers we got were surprisingly coy. Halfords, for example, wouldn’t answer our list of questions, but did respond with the statement: “We are monitoring the Coronavirus situation carefully. To date, the virus has not had a material impact on stock availability but we are continuing to work closely with our partners across the Far East.”

Similarly, Euro Car Parts answered our request with the simple sentence: “To date, we’ve not experienced any issues with stock availability because of the Coronavirus outbreak. We’re aware of the risk of disruption it still poses, and our supply chain team is working on contingency plans and is in regular dialogue with our suppliers to ensure we’re prepared to mitigate against any potential impact.”

Some other companies simply declined to discuss the issue at all. However, the fact that parts and accessory supply chains have, at the very least, been interrupted is not in dispute.

READ: IAAF BOSS: GOVT. MUST HELP THE AFTERMARKET

TYRE SHORTAGE

Tyres are known to be in short supply at the moment, especially budget products which are typically produced in China or Malaysia. The problem has become such a concern that TyreSafe, a body set up by wholesale distributors and tyre dealers, has issued a release advising motorists to fork out a bit of extra cash for mid-range or premium tyres, and not to buy part-worns, of which the organisation has a low opinion, as it has repeatedly voiced.

Stuart Jackson, Chair of TyreSafe, said: “The vast majority of [budget tyres] are imported into the country from China and across South East Asia where the outbreak of Coronavirus has led to governments closing facilities such as schools and factories to limit the spread. As a consequence, the level of supply the UK has become accustomed to for many products has been reduced.

PHOTOGRAPH BY Feature China / Barcroft Media

“Our advice is to seek a good deal on a mid-priced tyre and carry out regular checks to get the best out of that tyre over its full potential lifespan.”

National Tyre Dealer Association Chair Stefan Hay said that most members had a good stock of mid-range tyres, but added: “There can be no doubt that we could see a potential shortage of budget tyres if quarantine and export restrictions are maintained.

“This will affect all manufacturers with an interest in China and other South East Asian countries. For example, I’m aware that production at two of Pirelli’s three factories in China remains suspended in response to the spread of coronavirus. Pirelli has also reported that its entire expat workforce has left the country along with their families. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. ‘temporarily’ closed its headquarters and factory in China and the beginning of February and it is uncertain as to how temporary that is.”

Hay added that restrictions in supply can soon bounce back, citing a shortage of tyres a few years ago due to a trade dispute between the EU and China, which was swiftly resolved.

SHUTDOWN

It isn’t just tyres that are affected. The widest range of factory closures is in southern China, which is the heartland for manufacturing electronics, as well as the site of numerous foundries for making hard parts. Murray Silverman, Director of Streetwize Accessories in Manchester, is candid about the impact that factory shutdowns will have on UK business. “ALL businesses will be affected,” he emphasised. “Some might not realise it yet.”

“All suppliers that we have spoken to have advised at least a three week delay as it stands today,” Silverman told us when we spoke in mid February, adding that the date was ‘moveable daily’ and that at the time of speaking, his company could not even contact many of the factories that had not yet returned to work.

A big question mark hanging over the whole situation concerned just how long these delays might become. “Nobody knows how long these delays could go on for,” said Silverman. “We contacted all our customers to advise them that there will be shortages that will escalate during the summer months or earlier and advise them to order whilst we have stocks available. Some customers have reacted but unfortunately there will be those who will realise too late despite warnings.”

One company reacting to the situation is battery charger manufacturer Ctek. “Our suppliers have restarted their production and supply following Chinese New Year,” company spokesperson Stig Mathisen told us. “We are mindful however, that there is a risk that the outbreak could worsen and will continue to monitor the situation closely, introducing contingency plans if there is a requirement to do so.”

Sourcing products from elsewhere is not an option for many, particularly given that northern Italy, a major European production centre of parts, is arguably in a worse state than China at the time of writing. In any case, for the majority of companies it isn’t simply a case of switching production – new suppliers need to be tested, pricing and quantities have to be agreed and then go through any relevant type approval. “Sourcing product elsewhere is not an option, even if we could find the resource and the pricing was acceptable, it takes time to go through our QC and graphics teams,” explained Murray Silverman, adding that in any case a lot of UK and European-made products would also be in short supply, due to the amount of raw material and components that come from the Far East.

A situation that no-one two months ago could have foreseen is the possibility that UK companies might have to let employees work from home if the number of infections in the UK continues to rise. Quite how this could work for a parts distributor or a service and repair garage is anyone’s guess, but if the outbreak spreads further and there are more fatalities, who knows what might happen in the future?

Inevitably, the world will return to normal, and when this happens a new set of challenges may arise. “Even when factories do return, there are likely to be transport issues from the factory to the port and a lack of vessels to cope,” commented Silverman, adding that: “Another eventuality that may occur is that shipping companies and freight forwarders raise their rates to try to pull back the enormous amount of business they have lost.

“There will be further impact in the future,” he concluded.

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BREMBO SHUTS ITALIAN SITES AMID CORONAVIRUS CRISIS

BREMBO SHUTS ITALIAN SITES AMID CORONAVIRUS CRISIS

Braking components manufacturer Brembo has paused operations at four Italian production centres in reaction to the coronavirus outbreak in the Bergamo and Brescia regions.

The firm’s sites in Stezzano, Curno, Mapello and Sellero will all be closed from today (16 March) until Sunday 22 March, with the company citing the “objective impossibility of operation continuously” as the virus continues to spread across Northern Italy.

In an official statement, Brembo said: “The decision is in line with the extraordinary provisions of the Italian Government and has the aim of protecting people’s health and safety, in the face of the evolution of the COVID19 pandemic”.

READ: WEBASTO HQ SHUTS TO PREVENT CORONAVIRUS SPREAD

It continued: “Brembo made this decision with a great sense of responsibility and in agreement with all the social partners involved, to intensify the measures already adopted since the early stages of spreading the virus and to ensure greater safety and serenity for all its people.”

It remains unclear whether the closures could continue beyond Sunday, but Brembo claims it is “ready to resume its activities with the commitment and gaze towards the future that has always characterised it”.

The braking firm’s announcement follows a series of similar closures at firms all over Italy and Europe. The heavily industrialised Lombardy region – with a population of more than 10,000,000 – is particularly badly affected, prompting VMs Ferrari and FCA to temporarily shut down, as well as a number of crucial component and service suppliers.

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UNIPART WINS THREE-YEAR JLR LOGISTICS CONTRACT

UNIPART WINS THREE-YEAR JLR LOGISTICS CONTRACT

Unipart has won a three-year contract to operate Jaguar Land Rover’s new Battery Assembly Centre at Hams Hall in Birmingham.

 

The site, which will be among the largest such facilities in the UK when it opens later this year, will provide electric vehicle batteries for JLR’s Solihull and Castle Bromwich production lines.

John Neill heads Unipart Group

More than 100 Unipart employees will be stationed at the Hams Hall facility, providing logistical assistance in line with the VM’s just-in-time production model.

READ: BOSCH TO ACQUIRE UNIPART CAR CARE CENTRES

John Neill, CEO of the Oxfordshire-based supply chain specialist, said: “The future of the automotive industry is in electric vehicles, and this contract with Jaguar Land Rover sees Unipart playing a key role at the heart of Jaguar Land Rover’s plans for electrification.

“Unipart is uniquely placed to make a positive influence on the UK automotive industry’s electrification which is set for terrific growth. Hyperbat, our joint venture with Williams Advanced Engineering, is at the forefront of manufacturing batteries for high-performance electric vehicles.

“Our lean practitioners are already working with automotive manufacturers looking to bring electric vehicle production into their supply chain successfully, and we can continue to bring added value through our expertise in both in-production and aftermarket logistics.”

Unipart has already worked with JLR, producing bumpers for all non-current models to allow the VM to clear a significant production backlog.

READ: UNIPART WINS EXTENSION TO JLR PACKING CONTRACT

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FORD TO CLOSE HALF OF UK DEALERSHIPS

FORD TO CLOSE HALF OF UK DEALERSHIPS

Ford is set to close around 50 percent of its UK dealerships as it embarks on a bold strategy to streamline its commercial operations.

The move, which was announced at an investor conference today (26 January), is part of the ‘Ford 2025 dealer plan’ which the brand says hopes will build “a stronger and more sustainably profitable Ford sales and servicing network”. Between 210 and 230 stores are expected to be affected.

It is hoped that the majority of the affected dealers will remain in operation as dedicated aftersales hubs, and the firm anticipates that 90 percent of new car buyers will still be able to reach a dealership within 30 minutes.

Some of Ford’s smaller UK dealerships will be converted into standalone service centres, with Ford claiming that “customers will not be unduly inconvenienced” by the shake-up.

An official Ford statement read: “We are working together in a spirit of partnership with our dealers and their investors to build a stronger and more sustainably profitable Ford sales and servicing network for the future in the UK, which works for the mutual benefit of our businesses and for our commercial and passenger vehicle customers.”

It is the largest consolidation of a VM dealer network in UK to date, and follows similar downsizing initiatives at Honda and Vauxhall. Despite heavy restructuring over the last 20 years, Ford has concluded that “dealer network profitability is still not sustainable”.

READ: SCOTTISH DEALERSHIP SALE SAVES 101 JOBS

Vehicle manufacturers are gradually exploring new ways of selling new cars. Last year saw Volvo launch the ‘UK’s most comprehensive’ online car sales service, while Mercedes activated a new digital showroom this week, which provides real-time stock availability data and a finance quote function.

At the beginning of 2019, Ford revealed the first details of its overhauled European business strategy as part of a $14bn drive to cut costs globally.

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EDF ACQUIRES CHARGING FIRM POD POINT

EDF ACQUIRES CHARGING FIRM POD POINT

Energy company EDF has acquired electric vehicle charger supplier Pod Point for an undisclosed sum, as part of a drive to become “the leading energy company for electric mobility in France, the UK, Italy and Belgium”.

The new deal means EV drivers will soon be able to schedule charging times and take advantage of cheaper electricity supply during off-peak times. EDF already offers financial incentives to electric vehicle owners under the ‘Go Electric’ banner, and says its acquisition of Pod Point will allow it to include charging point installations as part of its packages.

The energy company claims it is “the leading generator of low-carbon electricity in the UK, avoiding 18 million tonnes of CO2 last year”.

READ: CHARGING NETWORK FLAWED

Pod Point produces charging units for private, public and commercial use, and claims to have installed 62,000 devices across the UK since it was founded in 2009. Its founder, Erik Fairbairn said: “We set out in 2009 with the vision that travel shouldn’t damage the earth and a mission to put a charge point everywhere you park. So far, we have made great progress towards those goals.

“By joining up with EDF we can take things to the next level and accelerate our national roll out of charging points and make it even easier for drivers across the UK to go electric.”

The news comes following last week’s government announcement that the sale of new combustion-powered cars will end in 2035, or sooner if possible. The plans have been repeatedly criticised by industry leaders and experts, who claim the UK’s electric vehicle infrastructure is not ready to cope with a large-scale influx of zero-emission cars.

READ: COMBUSTION CAR SALES COULD END IN 2032

In 2018, BP bought Pod Point rival Chargemaster for £130 million, giving the energy giant control of the charge point manufacturer’s 6500 UK devices. The newly formed BP Chargemaster has begun rolling its rapid chargers out at fuel station forecourts nationwide.

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COMBUSTION CAR SALES COULD END IN 2032

COMBUSTION CAR SALES COULD END IN 2032

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has told the BBC that the proposed date for the ban on the sale of new combustion-engined cars could be brought forward another three years to 2032.

The deadline for new petrol, diesel and hybrid sales had been posted at 2040, before a shock government announcement last week advanced the plans by five years. Mr Shapps’ comments today will frustrate industry bodies like the SMMT, which labelled the 2035 proposal ‘extremely concerning’.

Mr Shapps said the forceful shift to electrification would happen by 2035, “or even 2032” in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live. He also confirmed that the government will launch a consultation on the feasibility of such a tight turnaround.

READ: UK GOVERNMENT DOUBLES EV INFRASTRUCTURE FUND

It is not a complete surprise; when Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the 2035 date last week, he said combustion-fuelled cars would be taken off sale as soon as possible.

The move comes ahead of an international climate summit in Glasgow in November, at which global leaders will discuss ways to bring down emissions and slow down climate change. The UK is working towards a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The SMMT has repeatedly stated that the government’s emissions targets are unrealistic and impracticable.As long ago as 2018, CEO Mike Hawes said: “The 2040 target is challenging enough; but to achieve market-wide penetration of zero emission vehicles by 2032 is virtually impossible without a massive upgrade to the national charging infrastructure and the reinstatement of a world-class package of incentives to encourage uptake of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.”

He reaffirmed his beliefs last week, when he accused the government of having “moved the goalposts for consumers and industry on such a critical issue”. He notes that EV vehicles still make up just a fraction of new car sales, and the government has sent mixed messages with the withdrawal of its plug-in car financial incentive.

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CAT AWARDS 2020: ALL THE WINNERS

CAT AWARDS 2020: ALL THE WINNERS

The 2020 edition of CAT’s annual awards ceremony took place at Manchester’s prestigious Lowry Hotel on 5 February. We celebrated the best our industry has to offer, with awards handed to those who most impressed our judging panel and readers.

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the afternoon, and a huge congratulations to all the winners!

Take a look at who won each category here:

Factor Chain of the Year: Pentland Component Parts

Sponsored by UFI Filters

Garage Concept of the Year Award: Autocare

Independent Garage of the Year: Uckfield Motor Services

Sponsored by Toyota First

Supplier of the Year: Bilstein Group 

Sponsored by Automechanika

Rising Star: Bridgend College students

Industry Partner (as voted by readers): Impression Communications

Retailer of the Year: J G Bestwicks

Outstanding Achievement: Andy Kent, Andy’s Kars

Factor Branch Team of the Year: Wilco Motosave Grimsby 

Sponsored by Boswell

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