TPS unveils future-proofing electrification plan

TPS is positioning itself as the next leader in trade parts supply by pushing forward with an electrification strategy that it hopes will future-proof the firm ahead of the coming EV age.

This master plan will centre around electric vehicle parts, staff and technician training, and the introduction of EVs into its delivery fleets – the latter will see Cupra Borns and VW ID Buzzs used.

“We are starting to see the impact of growth in EVs in the segment,” TPS boss Catherine Baker told CAT.

One big aim of the Volkswagen Group-owned parts supplier is how it can take a bigger slice of the EV market, especially as most of the vehicles in the car parc are relatively new and require less maintenance.

“The first time an EV owner comes for a routine servicing [at one of our customers’ branches] might be two years after they’ve taken delivery of the car, and actually that’s quite a significant amount of time after the handover,” said Baker.

“So the only time we might see them [in the coming years] is probably for a warranty piece of work. As a group, we are looking at more and more reasons to contact the customers more frequently and keep in touch with them.”

A big push, therefore, is on that contact with the customer: “If you’re seeing your customers less frequently, delighting them becomes even more important.”

Catherine Baker

Another focus is on training those working on the EVs. “We’ve had a huge drive on training,” said Baker.

“In terms of combustion engines, technology has obviously been relatively stable for decades, but EV technology is changing very quickly, because obviously it’s new.

“So training the network and keeping skills up today is a big focus.”

With that, however, comes challenges of its own: “The vehicle parc for EVs is still relatively small, so it’s really challenging to train someone who might not actually see an EV for repair for a couple of months. One of the challenges we have is kind of keeping that training up to date.”

She added: “We’re working in close collaboration with some of the insurance industry so that when those vehicles are damaged, insurers understand the right repair methods.”

Despite the focus on electrification and electric vehicles, TPS has no intention of shutting itself off to ICE vehicles.

“Combustion engine cars are going to be on our roads in big numbers for the next 20 to 30 years; it’s not that, all of a sudden, overnight, our industry will see a lack of demand,” said Baker, who added servicing parts for ICE vehicles was still core to its business.

Baker was also keen to stress how TPS has changed over recent years, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic and the supply issues that preceded it.

“Clearly, some of the things, such as some geopolitical situations, are completely outside of our control,” she said. “But one of the reasons we’ve been successful is we’ve been as reliable as we can be from customers.”

The brand has also “increased visibility internally” so “we manage that conversation with our customers and guide them”.

Baker said: “We recognise we don’t get it right every time. Some of those things are in our control, some of those things are outside of our control, but the important things for me is transparency and communication because the customer as much as we possibly can with regard to those parts.”

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