Automechanika to tackle major issues affecting aftermarket

Published:  23 February, 2018

 Automechanika Birmingham 2018 is set tackle all the major issues affecting businesses in the automotive aftermarket, according to event director Simon Albert.

With an exhibitor base set to be the most proactive yet, visitors will also benefit from the event’s seminar programme with issues such as GDPR and MOT changes set to dominate.

Simon Albert commented: “With changes affecting the running of garages due to come into place just weeks before the event, Automechanika Birmingham is perfectly positioned to provide much needed clarity on issues affecting the trade.”

This year, the show will also have a dedicated ‘Garage Quarter’ for the growing number of garages attending the event and an enhanced programme of live events featuring live technical demonstrations, free training and keynote speakers.

Simon added: “Automechanika Birmingham 2018 is an event for every company in the aftermarket to come together, share ideas and express opinions on how to move business forward. With so much happening in the trade, the event has become a ‘must attend’ for automotive personnel looking to develop their business now and in the future.”

This year’s event at the NEC Birmingham runs from 5-7 June 2018. The show will include vehicle production exhibitors in Hall 6, aftermarket suppliers in Hall 20 and a dedicated Garage Quarter in Hall 19.

Visitors looking to sign up can register for their free ticket here:  https://www.automechanika-birmingham.com/welcome/get-your-free-ticket

Related Articles

  • The changing face of the Aftermarket 

    Arguably the world’s largest and most successful aftermarket show was recently held in Frankfurt – Automechanika.
        
    If you didn’t go, you missed something very impressive, but there will be various reports about what was there and details of specific exhibitors and their latest product or service in this most noble magazine.
        
    However, although I spent most of a week at this exhibition, what intrigued me was not just the enormous variety of exhibitors, with their corresponding products, services and new ideas, but the wider question of why it is so successful and why so many visitors – over 130,000 this year - attend this bi-annual show out of their busy schedules. Most importantly, well over two thirds of these are senior business managers or business owners with 96% stating that they were “very satisfied’”with their visit to the show. Doesn’t this start to tell you something very important?
        
    It starts to show why exhibitions are so important, especially at this moment in the history of the aftermarket, and why it is increasingly important to attend this type of show. Let me explain.

    Evolution
    For over a century the aftermarket has continuously evolved and primarily provides consumers with competitive choices about the diagnosis, service and maintenance of the vehicles – generating healthy competition and impressive innovation along the way. If evidence was ever needed as to how important this is, then Automechanika shows this in abundance. Whole halls (several on three levels) exhibit specific sectors of the aftermarket and the Automechanika organisers help the visitor by keeping all similar products or services in a dedicated area or hall. Believe me, this really helps when planning what you want to see and how to find it, but equally reflects the needs of the visitors who plan their visits almost like a military operation. However, there were some important differences with this year’s show as there was an interesting dichotomy. For the first time, there was a significant retrospective view with older (classic) vehicles in a dedicated hall and at other stands around the show. This was to illustrate that growing skills gap in what is a lucrative and resurgent market, but was also clearly based on the B2B opportunities that servicing and maintaining these cars can create.
        
    From the opposite perspective, there was much evidence of new technologies and the rapid revolution that is taking place towards the garage of the future. Perhaps these two elements summarise nicely the question of why so many senior people go to this show – it enables them to understand the threats and opportunities in relation to their businesses and equally, flowing from this, where and when investment in their businesses should take place. This leads into how their businesses can remain competitive, which can be a combination of exploiting new digital technologies to create higher workshop efficiencies, implementing improved tools and equipment or understanding how improved work methods using internet and cloud based solutions can reduce the costs.

    Competition
    On the other side of the equation is the wider competition issue of how to remain in the position to offer competitive choices to the consumer, as the ability to remain competitive could be under severe threat from changes to the vehicle design, access conditions and new competitors entering the market.
        
    Automechanika represents the epitome of the aftermarket’s success, but is viewed by the vehicle manufacturers as a rich opportunity to encroach into the aftermarket sector and ‘take back’ what they consider should be rightfully theirs.
        
    As I have written about before, this is part of the connected car and allows the vehicle manufacturer to control all remote access to the vehicle. You may consider that this is not your problem, as you repair vehicles when they come into your workshop, but what is happening now is that the start of this repair process starts with vehicle manufacturers’ applications embedded in the vehicle, monitoring what faults or service requirements are needed and then proposing via the in-vehicle display a location and price where the service or repair can be conducted – the driver just clicks  the icon and ‘voila’, the appointment is made at the nearest main dealer. You can’t compete if you can’t make a competitive offer as you don’t know what is needed and cannot contact the driver at the time the vehicle manufacturers are making their proposal.

    Access
    So, the aftermarket is evolving, but in a way that may not be obvious until it is too late. Independent service providers can manage their businesses to remain competitive with each other, but there is a distortion with which they cannot compete and with a competitor who wants to control the whole aftermarket value chain and its corresponding profit margins. Without being able to communicate with the vehicle, access its data and use the in-vehicle interface to communicate with the driver, all independent service providers (workshops, parts suppliers, data publishers – i.e. the complete aftermarket value chain) will be unable to offer competing offers, as they will not be able to pre-diagnose the vehicle and identify the parts or technical information required before the vehicle comes into the workshop.
        
    This remote access can reduce workshop costs by 50% and the corresponding competitiveness of any service you may wish to provide.
        
    This is not a ‘let market forces rule’ scenario, but is a real threat to the ability of the whole aftermarket to continue to offer consumers competitive choices and is an excellent example of the ‘primary market’ being able to dominate the ‘secondary market’ – a similar situation to the famous Microsoft Explorer case, where once you had made your choice of a PC, the only choice for an internet search engine was from Microsoft. To address the problem of monopolistic control in the aftermarket, we need the same support from the legislator as they enacted with Microsoft – ensure that there is the ability to implement a competitive choice and let the consumer choose.
        
    Only if legislation supports this basic principle of undistorted competition, will the Aftermarket be able to continue to do what it does best – make innovative, competitive and appealing offers to vehicle owners as well as putting on a great show – in every sense of the word.
    xenconsultancy.com

  • WIN with Behr Hella Service 

    Behr Hella Service has five sets of mugs and polo shirts for the lucky readers of Aftermarket.  The company also wants to encourage technicians to follow best practice and top-up the oil within the air-conditioning system during vehicle service or replace it if the compressor is changed.

  • Walkabout: The Australian adventure 

    Having just spent three weeks touring New South Wales, while delivering two training events, firstly in Sydney then Canberra I thought it would be interesting to compare how our two different, but also similar markets operate.

    The visit began several months ago with an invitation from a good friend Bob Whyms, Australia’s prominent Porsche specialist in Sydney. The offer comes as part of a training group called Australian Aftermarket Service Dealer Network (AASDN). This is a group of totally independent service and repair independents across the whole of Australia.

     It was formed from disillusioned members from the Bosch Aftermarket Service Dealership Network, or BASDN. Around 70% agreed to form AASDN with the view of promoting mutual support and training across the whole of the continent. Members pay a subscription to a fund that provides venues and trainers across the continent. My understanding is they number about four per season.

    Mutual respect
    It is important to understand the incredible geographical constraints yet obvious bond they share for their independence and mutual respect. If I may reflect on our very own Autoinform event in Harrogate in November, where I am sure all attendees would recognise the same sentiments from the AASDN group.

    I was also privileged to visit several businesses in both Sydney and en-route to Canberra. The BWA Porsche specialist host and first training venue, based in the western suburbs, provides genuine expertise in depth from Bob and now also his son Craig. This ranges from servicing to performance upgrades.

    BWA provide a parts service across Australia importing directly from Germany. They also provide a comprehensive machine shop service, which supports their engine remanufacture and performance business. Bob and I had fun reflecting on Bosch D Jetronic and other early evolutions of fuel injection, grumpy old men and all that!

    I was then treated to a visit to a highly respected Mercedes tuning expert close to the airport. Then finally, a very talented young technician specialising in DPF cleaning. The focus on training included ignition diagnostic technique, common rail and direct gasoline injection.

    It was both a pleasure and privilege to share the enthusiasm from the entire audience, their knowledge and interaction was mutually appreciated.

    In a far too brief visit to Dubbo, my good friend Paul gave me an insight into the more remote reaches of the trade. I was equally impressed with the dedication and superb workshop facilities. I also experienced several near-misses from kangaroos!

    Special mention
    I should give special mention to  my incredible visit to the Bathurst 1000 race. It is an institution among fans and an incredible two-mile hill town circuit, constructed from urban roads. AASDN host a VIP lounge for their members.  Imagine that at Silverstone! It only takes commitment and support with a little cash.

    One week down, heavy rain and in the good company of Alan, a diesel shop owner, we travelled down the coast, whale watching in Huskisson Bay. Then onto Canberra, via AASDN committee member Alan. Despite having just lost his home and all his possessions from a bush fire, Alan remarkably still provided accommodation in his temporary rental home.
    Our hosts in Canberra, Derek and Ros, operate a large high-end diesel specialist shop. The second training event was a mirror image of Sydney, supported by a second incredible array of AASDN members. Incredible not just for their knowledge and confidence but their interaction over the three days.

    The evenings from both events was spent socialising in steak houses chatting over mutual challenges. From my experience the vehicle market share was quite diverse, lots of Asian cars, and a remarkable number of VWs. It was a surprise to learn that that both Ford and Holden have ceased production in Australia due to a lack of competitive pricing. I was told of a delegate who attended the Canberra event who heard of my visit two days before the Friday start, purchased a flight, closed his workshop and travelled from Perth to attend. It is a 3,000km journey. To put that into some local UK context, I once had a conversation with a parts distributor in Kent several years ago, when a training event had to be relocated from Canterbury college to Ashford, 17.5 miles away. He cancelled the whole event without asking the delegates. The reason? He said, “they won’t travel that far.”
    I see little differences between our two cultures. I find the same dedication and passion. Sadly for the UK, they seem to have more of it.




  • Is the knowledge gap closing?  

  • Will there be an aftermarket after Brexit? 

    At the time of writing, the Brexit talks have not reached any agreement, but even if an agreement has now been reached as you are reading this, from the position of the UK aftermarket there will still be a lot of unanswered questions relating to both existing and future European legislation and how the UK government may decide to handle the implementation of these regulatory requirements after Brexit. This will be of critical importance to the aftermarket.
        
    So, what does the government need to do to avoid a negative impact on the UK aftermarket?
        
    To understand the background, it is important to understand the ‘legislative landscape’. The automotive sector in Europe is heavily regulated by European legislation, especially concerning vehicle safety and emissions. However there are also other aspects of automotive regulation that are an integral part of European legislation – especially the UNECE Regulations, which are centered on Geneva and cover many aspects of the European vehicle type approval (the UK is a signatory to these UNECE activities). At first glance, this may not appear to be an issue for the aftermarket, but increasingly, UNECE Regulations are referenced in the European Vehicle Type Approval and have started to include direct requirements for the aftermarket. In summary, this has complicated the legislative landscape and the increasing impact that legislation has on the future of the aftermarket in Europe, including the UK.
        
    This legislation has different aspects in terms of its legal basis and has both an historic element as well as a future requirement which has yet to enter into force. Historically, the Block Exemption Regulation (BER) is based on competition law. This principally covered the agreements between the vehicle manufacturer and their authorized dealer network (originally allowing an ‘exemption’ from the monopolistic geographical trading area), but importantly for the aftermarket, included the rights for ‘independent operators’ to access all technical information, tools, spare parts, training etc. at the same level as the authorised repairer – the ‘non-discrimination’ principle.
        
    However, although BER was revised in 2010, in practical terms, it did not change the basic problem of the ability for a small business to take legal action against a vehicle manufacturer if they did not provide access to e.g. technical information, when requested – a real ‘David and Goliath’ challenge.
        
    To address this problem, the European Commission decided to put the ‘access to repair and maintenance information’ (RMI) into Vehicle Type Approval Regulations, where it addressed the issue by changing the legal basis – still fundamentally a competition issue that supports non-discrimination - but now based on the vehicle manufacturer having to prove that access to the RMI was possible before they can achieve whole Vehicle Type Approval. However, now there is a mechanism that allows the type approval authorities to challenge the vehicle manufacturer if a possible non-compliance problem is raised by an independent operator once the vehicle model is in the market. This is all part of the requirements of the Euro 5 emissions legislation, introduced in 2007.
        
    Most importantly, do not underestimate the importance of these two pieces of legislation. Without them, today’s aftermarket would not be anywhere near as capable to work on the increasingly complicated systems found in modern vehicles and subsequently be able to offer the driver the myriad of competing choices that are the basis of the very existence of the aftermarket.
        
    However, there are further challenges ahead. Today’s vehicles are not only more sophisticated, but they are connected to provide telematics (remote) based services and are increasingly equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). This leads to an increasing safety issue, where vehicle manufacturers want to protect their (claimed) liability requirements and consequently, a security issue of only the vehicle manufacturer controlling access to the vehicle and its data. Although I have covered the impact that this is likely to create in previous articles, but from the legislative perspective, this is yet to be addressed.
        
    Some better news is that a new Vehicle Type Approval legislation is coming into force for new vehicle models entering the market from 1 September 2020 and this will help, as it directly references both the OBD connector and its ability to support access to the in-vehicle data, as well as referencing the vehicle manufacturer as part of the principle of non-discrimination if they provide remote services. However, the technical detail of how the access to the vehicle will be provided and consequently who will have access to what data is far from clear and is the subject of much heated debate in Brussels. The business model of vehicle manufacturers is evolving into remote services that pre-empt what a vehicle needs (i.e. predictive or prognostic functions that allow the ‘repair process’ to be assessed remotely before a vehicle needs to come to a workshop) as well as providing ‘mobility’ services as vehicle ownership models evolve. The fundamental legislative issue is how to ensure safe and secure access to the vehicle and its data to ensure that competition remains possible.
        
    For the UK aftermarket after Brexit, the key issues will be how the government act on these important points and how these will be covered in UK legislation. Obviously, the UK is likely to follow European Vehicle Type Approval legislation to ensure that vehicles manufactured in the UK can be sold in Europe, but the key question is if the RMI requirements will also be referenced and if so, with what detailed requirements. Potentially, the UK could still copy/paste the European Regulations into UK law, or could implement a different approach for RMI, just for the UK, but this could be both complicated and counter-productive for both parts manufacturers and the aftermarket, as one of the future requirements may be the extension for the type approval of replacement parts, especially for ADAS and autonomous vehicles.
        
    The position of the UK Government today (ahead of Brexit) has been to support manufacturing as a longer term post-Brexit strategy, but as the UK aftermarket represents almost 70% of the post-production services market, this also needs to be an integral part of life after the EU. Clearly a lot of important political work will need to be done after Brexit, both in the UK and Geneva to ensure a continued healthy and vibrant UK aftermarket.

    xenconsultancy.com


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