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SMMT PUSHES FOR POST-LOCKDOWN SCRAPPAGE SCHEME

SMMT PUSHES FOR POST-LOCKDOWN SCRAPPAGE SCHEME

A leaked letter from the SMMT to Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Business Secretary Alok Sharma has revealed that the SMMT is campaigning for a 1.5bn scrappage scheme to revitalise the British automotive industry in the wake of the pandemic.

First reported by The Guardian, the letter allegedly argued the case for a “market stimulus package”  that can “support the entire market, not just disproportionately favouring specific segments or technologies, recognising the diverse nature of UK automotive manufacturing”.

To this end, any such scheme should encourage the purchase of combustion-engined cars as well as EVs, said the SMMT, with discounts of £2500 hoped to put 600,000 new vehicles on the road.

READ: LKQ PLOTS GROWTH AFTER CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The last scrappage scheme, in 2009, offered new car buyers £2000 in exchange for their old vehicle as part of the industry’s recovery from the recession, with more than 400,000 vehicles sold as a result.

The Guardian quotes the SMMT as arguing that a new scheme “could also support wider government ambitions in terms of climate change and improved air quality”, but that the primary benefit “would be in jump-starting the market, the sector and the economy without further drain on the public purse”.

Further proposed benefits include taking automotive workers off the Government’s job retention scheme and reducing the risk of mass redundancies by driving demand for new vehicles.

The new car industry has suffered a significant and rapid downturn during the pandemic. In April – when most British manufacturers had paused production – just 4321 cars were sold, and recent figures show that just over 20,000 were sold in May.

READ: WHO BENEFITS FROM SCRAPPAGE?

But such a move would be unpopular with the aftermarket. The IAAF argues that most vehicles taken off the road would be ‘very much roadworthy’, meaning a scrappage scheme would “have a significantly negative effect on public mobility and the automotive aftermarket”.

Chief Executive Wendy Williamson said last month: “Motorists are currently under great pressure, and they should not be penalised for keeping hold of vehicles that are in good working condition and can continue to be serviced, repaired and maintained long into the future.

“Not only is this unfair to consumers, but it is putting the aftermarket at great risk, as it will result in a direct decrease in the number of vehicles entering independent garages.”

The IAAF suggests that, rather than implementing a universal, nationwide scheme, the Government should instead target drivers who live or work in low-emission zones, as they will be more likely to swap into a cleaner, newer vehicle.

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SCHAEFFLER LAUNCHES SOCIAL DISTANCING STARTER PACK FOR GARAGES

SCHAEFFLER LAUNCHES SOCIAL DISTANCING STARTER PACK FOR GARAGES

Engineering firm Schaeffler is distributing 2000 of its new ‘Back on Track’ packs as part of a move to support UK garages as they recover from the lockdown.

The package has been launched as the government eases lockdown measures but advises commuters against using public transport, meaning roads will become busier in the weeks ahead. There will also, it says, “be a backlog of MOT, servicing and urgent repairs to catch up on”, but garages should adhere to strict social distancing and hygiene measures.

The Back on Track package contains a floor sticker and tape to allow workshops and receptions to be separated into two-metre blocks, a washable face mask, hand sanitiser and hi-vis vest, as well as large posters and air fresheners that remind technicians and customers of the guidelines.

READ: LKQ PLOTS GROWTH AFTER CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The key guidelines for garage workers are as follows:

– Minimise contact with customers and suppliers

– Use new disposable gloves, seat covers and mats for every job

– Wipe down all contact points as you go

– Try to keep access to each car to just one technician

– Turn off all climate control systems

– Respect high risk customers by setting up a no-contact drop-off and collection system

Schaeffler has also suggested ways of attracting additional custom: “A key message here is that the 6-month MOT delay does NOT mean that the car is roadworthy. Garage owners and technicians have a duty of care to make sure that all vehicles leaving the workshop are in a legal, safe and roadworthy condition.

READ: IGA RAISE MOT EXTENSION CONCERNS WITH TRANSPORT MINISTER

“Drivers could get fined with non-functioning lights and wipers, or if tyres don’t meet legal requirements. If a vehicle isn’t roadworthy, the driver also may find that their insurance is invalid if they have an accident.

The firm also proposes free visual safety checks and exploiting social media to reach people stuck at home. Traditional newspaper adverts also still work, it notes.

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NEWS: EQUIPAUTO SHOW 2021’s ‘CHANGE IN POSITIONING’

NEWS: EQUIPAUTO SHOW 2021’s ‘CHANGE IN POSITIONING’

The 2021 edition of the EquipAuto trade fair in Paris is to ‘change position’ according to a statement from the organiser.

It is unclear from the statement what exactly the ‘change in position’ will be, but it is clear that as the show is to place only a month after the new dates for Automechanika Frankfurt, the Paris event must either be rescheduled, or the event must be changed to focus on something other than light vehicle service and repair.

READ: BREAKING: AUTOMECHANIKA 2020 CANCELLED

The full statement (in a direct translation) issued by Philippe Baudin, Chairman of Equip Auto reads as follows:

The unprecedented health crisis that has taken hold over the last few months throughout the world, leading to an unprecedented economic crisis, is bringing all French and international players in the exhibition ecosystem to consider different scenarios for their respective events. Since 2017, with its return to Paris Porte de Versailles, the EQUIP AUTO show has been on a highly positive trend, evidenced by the powerful mobilization of professionals in the automotive aftermarket and mobility services sector. Since the beginning of the year the organisers have been building on these solid foundations, reflecting in depth on the evolution of sectors and the expectations of professionals in order to build the EQUIP AUTO of the future, adjusting it to the changes happening in the market. In these circumstances which have been substantially modified by the current crisis, the FIEV and its partners, the FFC and the COMEXPOSIUM group, organisers of the EQUIP AUTO show, working in the interests of companies and the market, are building these new conditions into their reflections in order to define the new development avenues of the show in a long-term perspective and not just in the short term in the face of events. Thinking before they act rather than reacting on the spur of the moment: such is the path that the organisers have mapped out for themselves to redefine the contours of the show in its positioning and format and offer all stakeholders the most suitable long-term solutions for the future.

Look out for the July issue of CAT, which contains an exclusive interview with Michael Johannes, Organiser of Automechanika Frankfurt. 

 

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FURLOUGH SCHEME EXTENDED UNTIL OCTOBER

FURLOUGH SCHEME EXTENDED UNTIL OCTOBER

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that the government’s job retention (furlough) scheme will continue to run until October, under new plans to support UK firms in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Terms will remain unchanged until August, with the government paying furloughed workers 80% of their monthly salary up to a limit of £2500, but companies will then be asked to “start sharing” the cost of the scheme. It remains unclear how the payments will be divided between the government and employers at this stage.

READ: CORONAVIRUS: MORE THAN 60 PERCENT OF GARAGES HAVE SHUT

Firms will also be able to bring back furloughed workers on a part-time basis from August, as part of a move to make the scheme more flexible as lockdown measures begin to be relaxed and the country returns gradually to normality.

According to the BBC, the furlough scheme has already cost the UK government £10bn, and this latest move will increase the final bill several times over, but until the government clarifies what level of contribution employers need to make, it’s impossible to predict what the economic impact could be.

Speaking in Commons today, Sunak said: “I’m extending the scheme because I won’t give up on the people who rely on it.

“Our message today is simple: we stood behind Britain’s workers and businesses as we came into this crisis, and we will stand behind them as we come through the other side.”

 

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IGA CALLS FOR ‘FLEXIBLE FURLOUGH’ SCHEME

IGA CALLS FOR ‘FLEXIBLE FURLOUGH’ SCHEME

The Independent Garage Association (IGA) has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, requesting an enhancement to the furlough scheme so that employees can partially return to work as the country prepares for the next phase of lockdown restrictions.

Stuart James

Stuart James, IGA Chief Executive stated: “As businesses ready themselves for the next stage of lockdown, we are asking the Chancellor for a level of flexibility within the furlough scheme so businesses can be supported throughout their reopening.

READ: CORONAVIRUS: MORE THAN 60 PERCENT OF GARAGES HAVE SHUT

“Garages have been classified as an essential service throughout this crisis, however it has been very difficult for many of them to remain open in the current climate. It is common for garages to have staff dedicated to the role of MOT testing who do not repair cars. Due to the drop off in work volumes caused by the MOT extension and lockdown restrictions, garage owners have been left with no choice but to furlough these dedicated staff and, in many cases, close their business.

READ: INDEPENDENT PETROL STATIONS ‘MUST FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL’

“Most MOT tests are booked in advance, so if testers were able to return to work part-time with the help of a enhanced furlough scheme it would reduce the costs to the government, help garage businesses reopen in a phased, progressive manner, and help the economy work its way back to normality.

“We urge the Chancellor to consider a system similar to the French furlough system that gives businesses the flexibility to bring in employees as and when they are needed, while claiming back a percentage of their salary for any hours not worked.”

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SUPERCHIPS IN ADMINISTRATION FOLLOWING COVID-19 CLOSURE

SUPERCHIPS IN ADMINISTRATION FOLLOWING COVID-19 CLOSURE

Buckingham-based tuning firm Superchips has voluntarily entered liquidation, citing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as a driving factor.

An official statement from the ECU remapping specialist, which has been in operation since 1977, confirms that it has instructed business advisory servive Quantuma to assist with the administration process.

READ: CORONAVIRUS: MORE THAN 60 PERCENT OF GARAGES HAVE SHUT

The company thanked customers for their loyal service over the years, and said it is working to “assess whether we can sell the business and its assets as we are eager for there to be continuity”, inviting interested parties to get in touch for details.

Included in the sale will be the Superchips branding and associated domain names, a library comprising 3700 remap files and 80 worldwide garages trained to carry out Superchip services.

The company’s Buckinghamshire offices and workshops are available as part of separate negotiations.

On 23 March, a statement from Managing Director Ian Sandford advised that, following the government’s imposition of a lockdown, the company had taken the decision to temporarily close from 25 March.

READ: LKQ PLOTS GROWTH AFTER CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

It had been planned that normal operations would resume in due course, but any continued Superchips activity will now be carried out by a new owner when the lockdown ends.

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LKQ PLOTS GROWTH AFTER CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

LKQ PLOTS GROWTH AFTER CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Euro Car Parts owner LKQ Europe has stated that it is positioned for continued growth after the coronavirus crisis, with plans for further expansion and investment in its existing framework.

The Munich-based corporation, which acquired ECP in 2011 and owns more than 70 firms across Europe, has released the following statement:

——————–

LKQ Europe, the European automotive Independent Aftermarket market leader, is positioned for continued growth after the coronavirus crisis. Acquisitions remain important for the company now, as the situation unfolds, and after the crisis. “We will of course continue to monitor the market and will also look for external growth opportunities again when the time comes,” said Arnd Franz, CEO of LKQ Europe, in an interview published today with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). “After the coronavirus crisis, we want to grow over proportionally again. Currently, the integration of the more than 70 European market-leading companies acquired since 2011 remains a priority throughout the current crisis. 

LKQ Europe is by far the largest and only pan-European automotive parts distributor. This market position will be maintained and further expanded upon with new services, explained Franz. In the past three years alone, LKQ Europe has invested hundreds of millions of euros into two new fully-automated central warehouses in England and the Netherlands, the latter of which will go into operation at the end of 2020. The acquired companies are clearly benefiting from the high level of investment, as the example of Euro Car Parts in England shows: since the takeover in 2011, the number of employees has tripled, the number of branches has quadrupled, and turnover has increased fivefold.

In the current integration phase, LKQ Europe is investing primarily into a uniform European IT infrastructure and into harmonized standards, for example in purchasing and inventory management. Arnd Franz said “the European integration will enable us to leverage our strengths even better in the interests of our customers.” LKQ Europe is already a strong partner, especially for European companies such as fleet operators. With new services and training in the areas of digitalization, networking, security and environmental protection, LKQ Europe is constantly expanding its offering. In the current crisis, the need for information has increased once again. LKQ Europe is responding to this with an increased number of digital training courses and is informing its customers about operational questions, health care, and financing.

Arnd Franz also spoke about preparations for, and managing through, the crisis. “We already started to prepare ourselves in January; for example, through higher safety stocks,” said Arnd. “We are able to deliver, even if our suppliers are temporarily unable to produce. Though this is the worst crisis in decades, LKQ Europe’s top priority is to ensure the reliability of its delivery for its customers, as well as the protection of our employees.”

According to Arnd Franz, automotive workshops, and especially the steadily-growing number of independent workshops in recent years, guarantee safe, clean, and individual mobility. “It is a system-relevant business and we support our customers by continuing to guarantee the fast delivery of vehicle parts.” In Germany alone, LKQ Europe supplies more than 15,000 workshops with automotive parts per day. “If we can ensure that hundreds of thousands of vehicles continue to be serviced in Germany’s workshops every day, our economy will come out of this crisis in better shape and we will avoid more accidents, broken-down vehicles and, last but not least, pollutant emissions.” 

“Therefore, workshops must remain open,” said Arnd Franz as he addressed politicians throughout Europe.

ENDS

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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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