Optimism is the theme at Autopromotec

Autopromotec took place from May 20-24 in Italy with the theme: ‘The economy is picking up, Cars can restart’. 100,000 visitors were projected to visit the show, and even an uncharacteristically cold and wet Bologna didn’t put them off.

The event kicked off with a panel discussion looking at the state of the economy and its effects – both good and bad – had on the aftermarket, and what threats and opportunities lie in the months ahead. This was the first in a series of talks and group discussions on the future of the aftermarket in Europe, country by country.

However, it is the event itself and the 1597 exhibitors from 47 countries that makes this show interesting. Set over the 147,000 sqm of the Bologna exhibition centre, we found new tools, parts and garage equipment to suit all types of aftermarket operation.

Accessory retail had a large presence at the show, though it was interesting to note that Italian exhibitors were keen to push the wholesale of car wash hardware, such as pressure washers and jet lances as much, if not more, than accessory shop staples such as car shampoo and polishes. There was also a section for forecourt-type washes, including a jetwash for pet dogs, which we thought was ingenious.

Sometimes it is the visitors, rather than the exhibitors who have the most interesting stories, and among the people we met was Bo Marcusson, Commercial Director Global Aftermarket at hydraulic firm FTE. He explained how the VMs are putting pressure on all OE suppliers to reduce the weight of components, even by a tiny amount, and that means that new models will have an increase in components made from plastics, even down to the wheel in the oil pump. We’ll be looking at this trend in the magazine more closely in due course.

Product manufacturers often use trade shows to launch new gear – and there were lots of interesting new products at Autopromotec. Fluid handling firm Piusi had a raft of new products, including an Ad-Blue pump for light vehicles, as well as a new private diesel dispenser for fleet managers, which logs the details of each vehicle at every fill up, so none of the precious and highly taxed fuel goes astray.

Numerous diagnostic tools were launched at the show – and almost all of them were demonstrated by pretty ladies on exotic supercars. We had to wonder how many Ferrari Enzos or Pagani Zondas the average workshop sees in a week…

Brembo was one of several parts suppliers that used the event to launch new references. The big news from the Italian brake manufacturer is the introduction of remanufactured calipers. The reman products are rebuilt entirely in Europe and adhere to a stringent quality control policy.

Fans of the aftermarket press could catch up with trade magazines from around the world – including CAT of course – in a special library area, new for this edition of the show.

Like all trade shows there were a good number of Chinese exhibitors with brands that you’ve likely never heard of. However, while everything from the Far East tends to be simply written off as inferior copies of established products, we noted a few brands with something different to say. Bright Technology, which has been making garage equipment for others on a private label basis for many years, now produces its own line of 2D and 3D wheel balancers. These are built on proven technology and use European electronics and come with a two-year guarantee, but are substantially cheaper than better-known machines. Meanwhile, Enjoy Tire has launched a range of products for both passenger car and commercial vehicle, which it insists perform just as well as the leading brands.

Overall, the 2015 edition was an interesting and varied show, and we look forward to the next in two years’ time.

Published by GregWhitaker

Editor of CAT Magazine and an experienced motoring journalist

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