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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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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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LIQUI MOLY ACQUIRED BY WÜRTH GROUP

LIQUI MOLY ACQUIRED BY WÜRTH GROUP

A deal has been struck by German lube producer Würth Group to acquire Liqui Moly.

Würth Group has owned shares in the Ulm-based company for some years. Now, Managing Partner Ernst Prost has agreed to sell his controlling share in the company, effective January 1s subject to the usual regulatory approvals.  

Following the sale, Würth has said that Liqui Moly will continue to operate as an autonomous company with an independent brand in the Group. Prost will remain with Liqui Moly as joint MD, sharing the role with the firm’s long-standing Head of Sales, Günter Hiermaier.

Liqui Moly has sponsored Team Engstler for years

Peter Zürn, Deputy Chairman of the Central Managing Board of the Würth Group said: “We are proud that this successful and established brand, which is known for its outstanding reputation and great dynamics, will enrich the portfolio of the Würth Group. Our objective is the sustained successful development of Liqui Moly in the future. This is why we will continue to put our faith in the entrepreneurial expertise of Ernst Prost, just as we have done in the past 20 years as a silent partner at Liqui Moly”.

From Prost’s perspective it will be business as usual: “Those who know me know that my employees are my focus,” he said. “After all, it would be foolish to change anything about the road to success over the past few years. Everything will continue just as before – just under a bigger roof that offers greater protection.

In fiscal year 2016, Liqui Moly generated sales of approximately EUR 500 million with 800 employees.

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CAT AWARDS 2018:  VOTING NOW OPEN

CAT AWARDS 2018: VOTING NOW OPEN

The nominations for the CAT Awards 2018 are in. You can now vote for your winners by filling in the short form here. All of the category winners will be announced at the awards ceremony taking place in the luxury surroundings of the Lowry Hotel in Manchester on Friday 9th February 2018.

 

 

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BREAKING: ECP PARENT TO ACQUIRE STAHLGRUBER

BREAKING: ECP PARENT TO ACQUIRE STAHLGRUBER

Euro Car Parts’ parent company LKQ Corporation has entered an agreement to acquire Stahlgruber GmbH in a deal valued at roughly €1.5bn.

Stahlgruber is one of Germany’s largest factor chains and, as was discussed at last week’s IAAF conference, it was known to be for sale.

A report in the October issue of CAT highlighted how Stahlgruber recently invested in a vast automatic warehouse using robotics from TGW Logistics. The firm has over 500,000 SKUs and 100,000 clients on its books.

LKQ plans to complete the deal in March or April of next year, subject to usual regulatory approvals.

John S. Quinn CEO of LKQ said: “The LKQ Europe management team and I look forward to working with Stahlgruber’s management team and leveraging our combined best practices to maximize the benefits of scale across the continent.”

Heinz Reiner Reiff, CEO of Stahlgruber Otto Gruber AG, added: “I am very excited about the meaningful benefits that will occur by combining our complementary cultures and industry leading management, which together position Stahlgruber to achieve the continued growth of its European businesses. Our acceptance of LKQ shares as part of the consideration emphasizes our belief in the value of this combination.”

More on this deal as we get it.

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DELPHI AUTOMOTIVE TO BECOME APTIV PLC

DELPHI AUTOMOTIVE TO BECOME APTIV PLC

Following the recent split of Delphi into powertrain and automotive divisions, both departments have taken new names.

The powertrain segment will become Delphi Technologies, while the department formerly known as Delphi Automotive will be called Aptiv PLC.

As aftermarket products are made by Delphi Technologies, the brand will remain on products in factors.

“Despite recent debates around the future of the internal combustion engine, market experts predict that around 95 percent of vehicles on the road will still have an engine in 2025, albeit with increasing degrees of electrification,” said Liam Butterworth, newly appointed CEO, Delphi Technologies.. “This means we have the opportunity to make significant step changes in vehicle performance on the way to a fully electric market. ”

Apiv President and CEO Kevin Clark said: “Aptiv is built on a strong foundation of industry firsts, and has the knowledge, capability, and agility to win with traditional OEM customers and emerging mobility players. It is a remarkable time to be in our industry, and we are very confident about our future.”

Both Aptiv and Delphi Technologies will officially set out their stands as separate entities at CES, held in Las Vegas in January.

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SMMT PRESIDENT: ‘CONCRETE PROGRESS’ NEEDED ON BREXIT

SMMT PRESIDENT: ‘CONCRETE PROGRESS’ NEEDED ON BREXIT

The 101st SMMT dinner was interrupted before it had even started by Greenpeace protesters who managed to get on stage with a ‘Toxic Air award’ for VW. It was clear from the outset that this was going to be a politically charged event.

Mike Hawes, Tony Walker and Jennifer Saunders at SMMT Dinner 2017

Greenpeace invaded SMMT Dinner to present VW with ‘Toxic Air Award’.

Tony Walker delivered speech about the need for ‘concrete progress’ on Brexit

 

Following an introduction by Jennifer Saunders, SMMT Chief Exec, Mike Hawes took to the stage to talk about what he saw as the dangers of ‘demonising’ diesel. “Customers are not moving straight from diesel to electric. They are switching to petrol or are staying put in their older cars” he said, adding that the decision in the budget to increase tax on diesel cars leads to a falling market and a, conversely, rise in CO2 emissions. “This is not a policy without consequences. It has to stop” he said.

Business Minister, Greg Clark made a speech in which he acknowledged that the car industry was of ‘fundamental importance to the British economy’. He added that there was an industrial strategy in place, which ‘in many ways’ had been inspired by the motor industry.  

However, SMMT President Tony Walker warned of the dangers of a no-deal situation and a 10 percent tariff on exports. “Competitiveness comes hard-won. It can be easily lost” he said. “A hard Brexit would undermine all that we have collectively achieved. It is a real threat – a hurdle we cannot ignore.” He acknowledged that it was Government policy ’not to fall over a cliff edge’ but there needed to be evidence of ‘concrete progress – and quickly’.

Walker expanded that falling consumer confidence, uncertainty about Brexit and market confusion over diesel have taken their toll on sales domestically, and that the threat of trade barriers was putting the ‘export-led renaissance’  of the UK’s manufacturing base. “Our supply chains are integrated with Europe and well developed over time” he said. “We cannot disrupt them…We do not need trade barriers to be our next challenge”.

 

 

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AUTOINFORM LIVE ONCE AGAIN

AUTOINFORM LIVE ONCE AGAIN

The 2017 edition of the AutoInform Live technical training and networking event  has been held once again at the GTG Academy in Wolverhampton with around 200 attendees.

Diagnostic training expert and workshop owner, Frank Massey was on-hand to deliver training sessions on future technologies and industry issues, such as ‘Pumping losses’ – the mechanical inefficiency of a gasoline engine caused by the position of the throttle – and vibration analysis.

Speaking about the event, Massey said: “The event changes every year, and each time we try to put a different ‘flavour’ on it; for example, we might concentrate on ignition, common rail or emissions, which is a really big issue at the moment”.

“It means we have to do a lot of research – which is great for us – and to-date it’s been really well received. We’re getting good numbers and the right calibre of people: those who want to progress and succeed in the industry.”

Schaeffler’s Technical Services Manager, Malcolm Short added: “We try to refresh the event every year, with more presentations, updated content and new suppliers.

“The garages love that this event takes place at the weekend: we did a survey after the Edinburgh show and people responded overwhelmingly that they wanted it on Saturday and Sunday as it meant they weren’t taking time out of their busy working weeks.”

AutoInform Live launched in 2014 with the support of the Original Equipment Suppliers Aftermarket Assoc. (OESAA), replacing a series of conferences organised by the Massey family. There was also an addition of the show held in Glasgow earlier this year.

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BREAKING: CHANGE AT THE TOP AT FPS

BREAKING: CHANGE AT THE TOP AT FPS

Breaking: The following statement has been released by FPS:

“FPS are pleased to announce today that Jonathan Eden is to take the role of Managing Director, effective from 1st December 2017. Jonathan joined the team in 2013, initially with responsibility for IT, and became Finance and IT Director in early 2016 following the retirement of Peter Blackburn. Prior to working at FPS, Jonathan worked in the aftermarket for 23 years, so brings considerable industry experience to this role.

FPS are also pleased to announce that Duane Trower will be joining the business from Unipart Rail on 4th December, to take up the position as Director of Logistics. Duane has substantial and broad logistics and aftermarket experience which will support the continued growth of FPS.

This succession follows the planned decision by Neil Davis and Adrian Parker to step down from the business at the end of this year, after a period of handover. Both joined in 2001, having formed part of the leadership team since then.

Neil Davis commented “It’s been a pleasure to work at FPS, a business that really is the sum of the people, and on behalf of Adrian and myself, I’d like to thank all our colleagues who have worked so hard in the business over so many years. We’d also like to congratulate Jonathan on his appointment, and wish everyone all the best for the future”.

Jonathan Eden commented “FPS has seen continuous growth for the last 17 years, and continues to invest to ensure it will keep adding value for both its customer and supplier partners. I’d like to thank Adrian and Neil on behalf of everyone for their contribution to FPS over so many years, and look forward to the future working closely with all my colleagues across the business”.

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