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THE RIGHT PART GOES BEHIND WHAT FITS

THE RIGHT PART GOES BEHIND WHAT FITS

The rules around replacement parts are complex, but worth getting your head around, writes BM Catalysts Commercial Director Mark Blinston.

While there might be more hot air than hard facts about emissions across the mainstream press about vehicle emissions, there can be no doubt that reducing toxic gas and restoring trust in the motor industry is the greatest problem faced by the trade at the moment.

Everything is geared towards reducing emissions and much of the emphasis seems to be pointed towards vehicles and how we can reduce the impact that they are having on air quality. You may be wondering what we can do about it in the aftermarket; but one thing we can do is making sure the right part is fitted to the right vehicle based on the emissions standard of the vehicle in question – the Euro level.

Vehicles and replacement emission control devices must meet specific standards for exhaust emissions before they can be offered for sale in the European Union. Emissions limits are commonly referred to as Euro standards or levels.

Emissions are measured using a standardised test cycle called the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). The NEDC was last updated in 1997 and is gradually
being replaced by the World Light Test Procedure (WLTP), which is designed to better replicate real driving conditions. WLTP is now being applied to new vehicles (types) but does not yet apply to replacement parts.

In order to test the durability of each part emission test results are most frequently multiplied by a deterioration factor; with the adjusted result then compared to the legislative limit. Deterioration factors are designed to simulate the likely change in performance of the part after it has aged with use over time. These deterioration factors have become more stringent over time, and so when coupled with the gradual lowering of limits it becomes considerably harder to achieve a pass when testing newer parts and newer vehicles. The largest increase in deterioration factors occurred between Euro four and Euro five.

In order to meet higher emission standards, it is frequently found that the OEM part is made to a higher specification than the lower EU level part it has superseded. Legislation requires a comparison of performance between a replacement part and its OE equivalent and so it naturally follows that tougher standards + higher deterioration factors + higher performing OE parts = a real need for a higher specification replacement part.

RIGHT LEVEL

The Euro level of each vehicle prescribed at the point at which that vehicle is Type Approved. A replacement part cannot be approved to a lower Euro level than that of the original vehicle; so if the vehicle is Euro five then the replacement must be approved to Euro five levels/limits. Testing and approving this part to Euro four would mean that it cannot be proven that it meets the relevant emissions standards and therefore cannot legally be fitted to any Euro five vehicle.

There are many catalytic converter and diesel particulate filter (DPF) references that appear to be physically identical but are, in fact, designed and approved for vehicles that carry different Euro levels. This is made possible as the internal specification of the part is largely the key to the emissions performance of the vehicle. For example, the Euro five version of the close-coupled cat for the Citroen C1 requires a specification that is more than 3 times that of the Euro four version of the part. A similar story is true of the Euro four/five Fiat five00 and Ford KA. Quite apart from it being illegal to fit the Euro four version to a Euro five vehicle, it will cause poor emissions performance with a much higher chance of related vehicle issues and potential part warranty returns. It can be easy to source the cheapest product which isn’t necessarily approved to the correct Euro level – the consequence of which is then a part that will actually not perform to the standards required.

CATALOGUE
The correct cataloguing of aftermarket parts is complex and challenging and many consumers will not be aware of the Euro level of their vehicle. It is therefore down to the garage and parts distributor to ensure that the part that is being sourced is approved for sale to the correct Euro level of the vehicle in question. This is something that has recently been identified as a “problem” in the aftermarket whereby parts can be physically the same, catalogued with the same start and close dates yet be very different both in terms of the internals and what they are legally approved for sale to fit.

In an effort to reduce the number of occasions that the incorrect part is being supplied and fitted to the vehicle, MAM (Autocat) will shortly be introducing the Euro level as a search criteria when identifying the correct part for a particular vehicle. Manufacturers of catalysts and DPFs will be asked to submit the Euro level for which their part has been homologated to enable an accurate match upon lookup. This is a positive step that the aftermarket is taking to reduce vehicle emissions.

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RETAIL TRADE FACES ‘UNCERTAIN FUTURE’

RETAIL TRADE FACES ‘UNCERTAIN FUTURE’

New car registrations continue to fall

The UK’s motor retail and parts industries face an ‘uncertain future’ as the number of firms in ‘significant financial distress’ according to a new report.

The research, published by insolvency firm Begbies Traynor shows that both new and used car dealers are having a very hard time as new registrations continue to fall. Interestingly, the firm cites a glut of used cars on the market as one of the reasons for used car dealer’s distress, rather than the number of pre Euro-5 vehicles taken out of the market as a result of scrappage schemes offered by various VMs.

Over the past year, the level of ‘significant distress’ for used car dealers rose by a third to 1851 dealers, compared with the same period in the previous year.

Julie Palmer, partner at Begbies Traynor, said: “Consumers up and down the country are tightening their belts in the face of rising inflation, increased interest rates and real wage pressures, causing households to put the handbrake on spending on big ticket purchases, and encouraging many to hold on to their vehicles for longer”.

“Even those owners looking to upgrade their vehicles are struggling to do so, as a recent glut of second hand cars on the market continues to depress the value of second hand motors while making new vehicles and their hefty price tags even less appealing”.

New car dealerships fair little better, with consumer confusion regarding diesel legislation and a lack of electric infrastructure keeping would-be car buyers away. Worryingly, the findings chime with the results of a KPMG survey released at the same time that predicts over half of all dealerships in the UK could close within eight years, leading a number of dealer principals and other motor industry executive to state that the only way these businesses can survive is to convert to a used car dealer and/or repurpose to becoming an independent service garage (see page 5).

FINANCIAL HEALTH

The Begbies Traynor findings were published in the firm’s Red Flag alerts, which monitors the financial health of UK companies. It warns that a number of macro-economic pressures last year contributed to this considerable increase in distress, with the combination of rising inflation, stagnant real wage growth, a weak
pound, political uncertainty, November’s rise in interest rates, and the ever-tightening credit environment putting increasing financial stress on businesses across the country. As a result, 258,349 UK businesses ended the year in a position of negative net worth, while a further 154,251 demonstrated a ‘worrying increase’ in their working capital deficit.

Palmer added: “When the overall business environment is so challenging, unfortunately there can be few real winners, however certain sectors of the economy are certainly feeling the pinch more than others. In particular, the vast UK support services sector saw a spike in distress as their stretched customers reined back spending. The construction industry saw the lowest levels of optimism in five years while the real estate sector felt the full impact of the increasingly stagnant UK housing market”.

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BREAKING: ECP MANAGEMENT ISSUE STATEMENT ON ANDREW PAGE CLOSURES

BREAKING: ECP MANAGEMENT ISSUE STATEMENT ON ANDREW PAGE CLOSURES

LATEST: Regarding yesterday’s CAT story on a number of Andrew Page branches that were suddenly closed, the following written statement has been issued by a Euro Car Parts spokesman:

“We can confirm that we have closed 10 Andrew Page branches, following the completion of a recent business operational review by the Andrew Page Management team.  There are no plans to close any further Andrew Page branches. We are currently working with employees at affected branches to look for alternative options within the ECP or Andrew Page network, and working closely with customers of these affected branches.”

Andrew Page is the nation’s oldest factor brand, having celebrated its centenary in 2017. The company briefly went into administration in 2016 before being bought by Euro Car Parts in 2016. 

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, Latest News, News, special news, UncategorisedComments (1)

BREAKING: ANDREW PAGE BRANCH CLOSURES

BREAKING: ANDREW PAGE BRANCH CLOSURES

Ten branches of Andrew Page have been closed.

 

Carlisle and Ellesmere port closed last week. Cardiff, Peterborough, Kettering, Shrewsbury,Chesterfield and three others closed on Monday. Calls we made to affected branches diverted to a nearby Euro Car PArts.  Meanwhile, managers from other branches took part in conference call on Tuesday.  

 

In a written statement, a spokesman for ECP said: “We can confirm that we have closed 10 Andrew Page branches, following the completion of a recent business operational review by the Andrew Page Management team.  There are no plans to close any further Andrew Page branches. We are currently working with employees at affected branches to look for alternative options within the ECP or Andrew Page network, and working closely with customers of these affected branches.”

 

Andrew Page was bought by the parent company of rival Euro Car Parts in 2016 immediately after the former went into administration. Following a lengthy investigation by the  Competition and Markets Authority, nine depots were proscribed to be closed in the interest of not ‘significantly reducing competition’

 

Interestingly, none of the branches closed over the past week were on the CMA list. Liphook, Scunthourpe, Wakefield and York were on the list, but remain on the company’s depot finder.

Note: This story has been updated to include the statement from ECP

 

 

 

Andrew Page closes branches

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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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NEW HELLA HENGST FILTERS FOR WORKSHOPS

NEW HELLA HENGST FILTERS FOR WORKSHOPS

PROMOTION ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF HELLA

Hella Hengst portfolio

HELLA, a leading original equipment (OE) manufacturer and system supplier to the global automotive industry, has recently added antibacterial carbon activated cabin filters to the HELLA Hengst range of OE quality filters.

The 38 new-to-range (NTR) references are available for a variety of vehicles, including Ford Focus C-Max, Mercedes Benz A and C class, and Sprinter, as well as Audi A3, A4 and A5. The range also extends to the majority of VW and SEAT models. These additions, which will be available from early 2018, can be easily identified with the letters ‘LB’ marked on the end of the HELLA Hengst part numbers.

The main difference between the HELLA Hengst carbon activated cabin filter and the new antibacterial version is that while both have excellent odour reduction properties, the latter can also reduce allergy problems caused by contaminants such as bacteria and mould fungi, which enter the passenger compartment through the ventilation system, thus tackling one of the growing issues facing road users by directly addressing the health concerns of vehicle occupants.

Today, modern vehicles have cabin filters located in a variety of places and that are sometimes challenging to fit, making it difficult for installers to service or replace them. To further assist technicians, HELLA Hengst provides easy-to-follow installation instructions for all cabin filter types, including their locations, in every product pack.

As these additions demonstrate, the HELLA Hengst range is consistently growing and with a complete range of 1,500 premium quality filters across 90,000 applications for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, the company is showing its commitment to deliver the very best in terms of quality and availability to support the independent aftermarket.

For more information about the new HELLA Hengst filtration range, contact our sales team on 01295 662324 or email hella.hengst@hella.com

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, Featured Sidebar, Filters, Garage News, Industry Insight, Retailer NewsComments (0)

HELLA ANNOUNCES NEW PLANT AND BUSINESS DEAL

HELLA ANNOUNCES NEW PLANT AND BUSINESS DEAL

Hella and BHAP tie the knot

AS PART OF growing demand for its vehicle lighting systems, Hella has opened a new production plant in Tianjin, China valued in low-to medium double-digit million euro.

The opening of the site follows a joint venture between Hella and Beijing Hainachuan Automotive Parts Co. Ltd. (BHAP) – a subsidiary of the BAIC Group, which will see both parties collaborate on LED headlamps, rear combination lamps, car body lighting and interior lighting under the newly formed entity, ‘Hella-BHAP’.

Markus Banner, Member of the Hella Management Board, said: “The new plant will strengthen our market position on one of the world’s major automotive markets. When extending our structures locally here on site, we are also very consciously counting on collaboration with successful Chinese partners such as BHAP. And that is because such cooperation means that we will be able to meet the needs of local customers even better than ever before.”

“Tianjin, where the new factory is located, is of strategic importance to the Chinese automotive industry as many of our key customers are located nearby”, said BHAP General Manager Chen Bao, “Hella is a perfect partner for BHAP, and we join hands to develop the automotive lighting business in this region and provide our clients with the best services and support,” adding that its cooperation will gradually expand into  electronics and aftermarket.

The new location employs100 staff with plans to extend this number to 250, along with its current site and 12,000 sq m production facility in due course.

 

Posted in Blogs, Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, Lighting, News, Retailer News, UncategorisedComments (0)

CLUBBING WITH THE TRADE

CLUBBING WITH THE TRADE

Mitch Cameron shows us around a relocated TPS Branch in Slough.

New logo on signage

You have probably noticed the quiet growth of trade clubs over the past decade. At first, these were a way for the VMs to get the independent garages that wouldn’t normally consider queuing at a franchise’s parts counter to use genuine parts.

The idea worked, and today some of the clubs are as busy, and as lean and sales-focussed, as any branch of an all-makes factor chain.

Take TPS for example. Launched 11 years ago the trade counter started its first month with four branches selling mostly dealer-only parts and bodyshop supplies. Today, it has a nationwide network of 75 centres and has recently been through a programme of modernisation and rebranding.

To find out what these changes mean in practical terms, we’ve headed west to the Berkshire town of Slough to have a look at a branch that has recently relocated to a more modern site.

When we arrive at the allotted (and very precise) time of 11.15, the first thing to notice is the large signs across the driveway. “We were one of the first to receive the new branding” said Branch Manager Mitch Cameron, adding that the new silver logo (TPS originally stood for Trade Parts Specialists, but now has no official designation) looks very professional when combined with the new corporate colour scheme.

The new look continues inside the building, as staff are wearing a redesigned uniform that matches the silver logo. Customers, according to Cameron, appreciate all of these tweaks. “We hear a lot from the front counter that it is a pleasant place to get parts from” he said.

Actually, a partition screen between the counter and the telesales floor has a dual role as on the reverse it has a large sales board, filled with targets broken down in ways that no doubt makes sense to the nine people rattling the phones.

FIGURES
While the board of figures doesn’t mean a lot to us, it is clearly very important to Cameron and the team as monthly targets are broken down into weekly, daily and even hourly productivity goals. Like most factor branches, there is a morning rush, which finishes just after 11 (hence the time we were given to arrive) followed be a spike in activity in the early afternoon, mostly from garages who want to make sure their parts are ordered ahead of a vehicle arriving first thing in the morning.

Part of the programme of branch modernisation is a phone system that will be able to monitor call volumes, lengths, number of outgoing and incoming and so on. “When we get it, it will give us a much better handle on what the peaks are during the day” explained Cameron, adding that, in common with the practice at most factors, each operator has their own list of ‘regular’ clients that they build up a relationship with and a few customers can be in touch with the branch ‘seven or eight times a day’. One of the team is a bodyshop specialist, so he deals with the panel beaters around the town.

9,000 items including many crash repair parts

Another relatively new system is a ‘gap analysis’ tool, something many readers in factors may well be familiar with. Simply put, it looks at what customers have been purchasing alongside what they haven’t been. For example, a customer might buy many sets of brake pads from the factor, but never any hydraulic fluid. The tool can pick things like this out and the sales rep can then find out why, and see if there is an offer that will persuade the garage owner to change their buying habits.

VAN FLEET
The branch’s fleet also deserves a mention. There are 11 vans, which is not untypical for a branch of this size. However, the branch has also acquired a small hatchback car (a VW of course) that has been converted to carry a small amount of stock and be used for client visits. “The idea of that is we have some part time drivers in the morning to cover the busy period. In the afternoon when it is a little quieter, we can send some of the telesales guys out so they can meet their customers face to face” explained Cameron. “This is something we’re building on, that we hadn’t been doing particularly before”. It has been said many times before, but there is never any substitute in the aftermarket for getting out and shaking hands with people.

The factor’s fleet also boasts a motor scooter for local runs. Traffic in the area immediately around the industrial estate can be pretty gnarly first thing in the morning and the bike is just the thing for small deliveries.

Some 9,000 lines are kept in the stockroom. Brake parts, oil and filters are the fastest moving lines as you might expect, although around 15 percent of stock holding relates to crash repair and body refinish (On our visit, the side panel for a Caddy van was waiting to be delivered to a customer). As you’d expect, TPS delivers many OE parts from the parent company, but in a move to compete with others it also has a second-tier line called ‘FourPlus’, which as the name implies are parts for vehicles old enough to be out of the warranty period. All products in the range come with a two-year guarantee and meet the VM’s quality assurance standards.

The phones start to get busy again as the afternoon rush begins, so its time for us to leave. However, if you are in Slough and you notice that there are a lot of Volkswagen Group cars on the road, now you’ll know how they stay there.

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ACEA DROPS A1/B1 AND INTRODUCES C5

ACEA DROPS A1/B1 AND INTRODUCES C5

Old specs to be discontinued as new oil sequence is introduced.

In the ever-changing world of modern lubricants, the ACEA A1/B1 standard is no more from December 1 2017 (though you can still sell products with this mark for another year). In its place is ACEA C54. So why the change? “In terms of the background to the removal of A1/B1 this grade reflects the trend towards low viscosity lubricants such as 0w20 which are becoming increasingly popular for newer modern cars, especially those from the Far East” explained David Wright, Chairman of industry body Vehicle Lubrication Standards (VLS).

“However, traditionally, the ‘A’ and ‘B’ ACEA sequences are reserved for vehicles without exhaust after treatment devices such as catalytic converters or diesel particulate filters. Today it is very rare that modern cars are sold, especially in Europe, without some form of exhaust after treatment device. So, the category A1/B1 became incongruous because most modern cars requiring low viscosity oils are fitted with exhaust after treatment devices” he explained.

We spoke to an industrial chemist at lubricant firm Comma, who confirmed that in a lot of cases, products that had been made to the old standard (or ‘sequence’ as it is known in
the lube business) were already compliant with the new one. Producers that had tested their products and found they met C5 were able to label them as such from December 2016 (and it became mandatory for new products produced since December 2017 to have the mark, though as mentioned you have a while to sell through anything that still has the A1/B1 label).

Our chat with the Comma chemist also confirmed some other good news, namely that as the makeup of the additive packs are broadly similar there shouldn’t be any significant price difference. Variations in lube prices are more likely to be down to the raw cost of products, rather than any different technology. It is also worth noting that most new C5 products will be have a high temperature viscosity of 20, rather than the more usual 30.

TOTAL QUARTZ
There are a few oils on the market ready to meet the new ACEA C5 technical standard. Among them is the new Total Quartz 0w20, which has been developed to meet a number of VM approvals,
including Volkswagen Group’s 508.00 ‘blue oil’ standard (despite the name, the product is in fact green). The criteria set down by VW Group were described by Total as being ‘severe’ as long-life oils can go more than 18,000 miles between changes.

Oil blender Comma is also among the first to market with a C5 oil. The firm’s Eco0-F 5w30 product needed no extra reformulation to meet the new standard, and is now sold bearing the mark. However, may of the major suppliers have yet to bring a C5 oil to range.

WHAT IS ACEA?
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (or Association des Constructeurs Européens d’Automobiles in French, hence the ACEA abbreviation) is a group that represents the 15 most important European motor vehicle manufacturers. The website oilspecifications.org notes that ACEA is the successor of CCMC (Comité des Constructeurs du Marché Commun). According to their statement, ACEA is an advocate for the automobile industry in Europe, representing manufacturers of passenger cars, vans, trucks and buses with production sites in Europe.

Among various other activities ACEA defines specifications for engine oils so called ACEA Oil Sequences. The sequences are usually updated every few years to include the latest developments in engine and lubricant technology. ACEA itself does not approve the oils, they set the standards and oil manufacturer’s may make performance claims for their products if those satisfy the relevant requirements. According to fuel supplier Infineum, there are a number of revised tests for C5 oil, compared with previous standards. These include tests for the effects of biodiesel and high temp, high shear rates.

Posted in CAT Features, Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, News, Retailer NewsComments (0)

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