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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 Awards have taken place and the winners have been announced. Find out who won what in the March edition of CAT

 

 

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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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HALFORDS INTERIM RESULTS: MODEST GROWTH IN ‘CHALLENGING CONDITIONS’

HALFORDS INTERIM RESULTS: MODEST GROWTH IN ‘CHALLENGING CONDITIONS’

Retail chain Halfords has published interim results for 2018. This will be the first set of results released since CEO Jill McDonald finished working out her notice at the end of October.

The group published modest growth in most areas, during what it described as ‘challenging conditions’, citing the weak pound and disappointing summer weather as reasons for gross margin to be weaker than it could be.

Like-for-like sales in car accessories were down two percent, which the group blamed on the continuing slide in the sale of sat-navs (which now make up around three percent of accessory sales, down from a high of 20 percent). The results were offset to some extent by the continued growth in dashcam sales.

The number of pushbikes sold was lower than the previous period, but the sector still recorded growth as the bikes had a higher average price, helped in no small part by the increase in popularity of e-bikes, which are now available across the chain’s network. The report also mentioned that two new Cycle Republic stores opened during the period.

Jonny Mason, Chief Financial Officer & Interim Chief Executive Officer, commented: “It is pleasing to report positive sales growth for this period, despite the poorer summer weather and the uncertainty in the UK economy. We are also pleased with our profit performance in the half, as we offset a large part of the (circa) £15m increase in costs that resulted from the impact of the weaker pound. Looking ahead, we have strong plans both in-store and online for the Cyber, Christmas and winter peaks.”

Ex-Dixons Carphone boss, Graham Stapleton has been hired as the new CEO and is expected to start in January.

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VALEO COMPLETES FTE AUTOMOTIVE ACQUISITION

VALEO COMPLETES FTE AUTOMOTIVE ACQUISITION

Parts maker Valeo has completed the acquisition of actuator firm FTE Automotive, having received clearances from the European Commission and the Turkish Competition Authority. All FTE employees will transfer to Valeo.

Valeo says that the acquisition will allow it to expand its offering of active hydraulic actuators, a fast-growing market that has benefited from the rise of hybrid and electric vehicles.

Jacques Aschenbroich, Valeo’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said: “With the acquisition of FTE Automotive, Valeo is positioning itself as the technological leader on the actuators market and thereby consolidating its CO2 emissions reduction strategy. This acquisition will help strengthen Valeo’s Powertrain Systems business. We are happy to welcome FTE’s 3,800 employees to the Valeo Group.”

In 2016, FTE Automotive generated sales of around 550 million euros. The company has more than 3,800 employees and a diversified manufacturing footprint in eight countries, including Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Mexico and China.

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BREAKING: NINE AP BRANCHES MUST BE SOLD TO ‘PURCHASER APPROVED BY CMA’

BREAKING: NINE AP BRANCHES MUST BE SOLD TO ‘PURCHASER APPROVED BY CMA’

In a statement released by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Euro Car Parts must now ‘sell a depot in each of these areas to a purchaser approved by CMA, so that customers don’t lose out’.

ECP bought most of the Andrew Page business in October 2016, after the latter went into administration.

A group of independent CMA panel members identified nine areas in England where the both companies were close competitors and where the merger could ‘significantly reduce competition’ for local customers.

The group did not consider that larger national or multi-regional customers would be adversely affected by the merger.

Professor Alasdair Smith, Inquiry Chair, said: “Following an in-depth investigation, we have found that this merger has the potential to drive up prices or reduce levels of service for customers in 9 local areas. That’s why we are requiring a depot in each area to be sold to a buyer approved by the CMA”.

“Outside of these areas, we did not find that the merger will further reduce competition compared to what would have happened if Euro Car Parts had not purchased Andrew Page”.

The nine affected areas are: Blackpool, Brighton, Gloucester, Liphook, Scunthorpe, Sunderland, Wakefield, Worthing and York. Swindon had also been identified during the provisional findings stage, but new evidence came to light which resulted in the group deciding that competition would not be affected in this area.

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