The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) held it’s annual conference at the ICC in Birmingham last week.
Opening the proceedings, Wendy Williamson, IAAF chief executive offered an overview to what has been an exceptionally busy year for the aftermarket.
She said: “Last year we talked about E-call and telematics, now we’re talking about the connected car.
“We’re facing a potential lock-out from all new vehicles and I genuinely believe that this is a much greater threat than we faced ten years ago with block exemption.”
With technology seemingly outpacing the legislators, Wendy told IAAF members that Volvo “will control the functionality of the 16-pin socket in the XC90 from January for anything other than emissions testing”.
It means that you will need pre-verified diagnostic tools, authorised by Volvo, to access the information needed – garages will have to pay on a case-by-case basis for the privilege.
With over 140 dedicated lobbyists between them, Wendy described vehicle manufacturers as a “formidable force” and said that FIGEFA are facing a “David and Goliath battle”.
“We must not underestimate the power and influence that the VMs have,” warned Wendy.
FIGEFA’s technical advisor, Neil Pattemore discussed some of the latest threats emerging from the UK and Europe, covering remote diagnostics, maintenance management and telematics.
Speaking on the proposed changes for a 4-1-1 MOT system, Wendy announced that the IAAF has joined forced with the Automotive Aftermarket Liaison Group (AALG) to fight the change, it’s a campaign that will be fought on the safety implications.
The consultation for the 4-1-1 MOT system has been deferred until early next year.
With news of rapid industry developments, Quentin Le Hetet of GIPA took to the conference stage to offer an insight into how prepared the aftermarket is for change.
Starting with Block Exemption, he explained that this little known piece of legislation must be fully exploited for the benefit of both vehicle owners and independent garages.
In a GIPA survey undertaken earlier this year, just 28 per cent of UK drivers said that they were aware of Block Exemption, compared to 40 per cent and 42 per cent of German and French drivers respectively.
What’s more, 46 per cent of UK drivers believe that their warranty would be void if they took their vehicle to anywhere other than the main dealer.
“This is crazy and it means we need educate drivers about Block Exemption,” Quentin added.
He discussed how Germany and France appear to be taking more of a proactive approach to informing motorists, using print, online and even TV advertising to spread the message.
The advice for the UK aftermarket is to actively inform vehicle owners about Block Exemption – it’s not something the VM’s will do for us.
Electric and plug-in hybrids
With the electric and plug-in hybrid sector growing rapidly, Quentin presented another reality check for the aftermarket in the form of more survey results.
Around half of all franchised dealers have the ability to service electric cars or plug-in hybrids, compared to just 18 per cent of independents.
“These are really new cars and are likely to stay in the VM network for the first three years but after that, they’ll be looking for cheaper options.”
What’s more, Steve Carter of Exponentia said that the latest set of regulations mark the “beginning of the end” for the internal combustion engine.
Despite this, 66 per cent of independents say they are not interested in hybrid vehicle training.
It suggests caution within the aftermarket and confusion as to whether it’s a trend that will last but it’s a debate that’s over according to Steve.
The market share of electric and plug-in hybrids has grown immensely in the past couple of years and independent garages are being urged to understand the opportunity and prepare.
Steve said: “The development pure electric, hybrid and plug-ins is going to be relentless and like nothing that we’ve seen in the industry before.”
“It’s hard to appreciate how rapid this change is going to be and independents are going to have to step up to the challenge.”
Putting this into perspective, he reiterated a recent statement made by Ford in which the VM announced that 40 per cent of the Ford line-up will be electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2020.
Have your say
Do you encourage use of Block Exemption? Have you been putting off electric and hybrid training? Share your reaction to the latest industry developments and leave your comments below. We’ll be continue to cover these topics in more detail and keep you up to date with the latest.