Former Dyson CEO Martin McCourt to speak at IAAF Virtual Conference 2021

Online conference to tackle automotive aftermarket’s past, present and future

The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) has announced Martin McCourt, who was previously the long-standing CEO of Dyson, as special guest speaker at its 2021 Virtual Conference.

In line with the Conference’s theme of Aftermarket for the Future, McCourt will discuss key topics, such as ‘Vertical Growth’, ‘Think Big Stay Small’ and the importance of ‘Innovation’.

Throughout the session, members will benefit from expert advice on meeting and overcoming adversity and how to turn this into positive opportunities, as well how to retain a business’ identity, while scaling up and continuing to grow.

McCourt has spent over 40 years working at the heart of British-based manufacturing, design and marketing for quality brands, including Dyson, Mars, Duracell, Toshiba and Pelikan.

As CEO of Dyson for 15 years, the ideas to market-leading consumer products maker, he devised and implemented a strategy that transformed the company from a single product, single-market producer into one where 80 percent of the business came from over 60 markets around the world.

In that time, he increased UK skilled jobs, grew profits to over £300m and enabled James Dyson to keep on inventing.
In 2010 Martin was named UK Business Leader of the Year.

In 2011, Dyson hit £1 bn revenue for the first time and McCourt was directly responsible for the establishment of Dyson subsidiaries in the USA, Japan, Switzerland, Austria and Germany.

In total he took Dyson into over 60 markets, achieving market leadership in the majority including the USA.

Mark Field, IAAF chief executive said: “New legislation and continuous innovations affecting the market mean that our industry is constantly evolving, and it’s crucial that the automotive aftermarket prepares accordingly in order to futureproof their businesses.

“We’re delighted to have Martin on board, as we’re sure he will use his vast experience and expertise to help businesses maximise potential opportunities to diversify for the better and innovate for the future.”

The IAAF Virtual Conference 2021, taking place on 2 December, will tackle the past, present and future of the sector, supporting members’ business activity.

A number of new sponsorship packages have been introduced and the event will also feature the ‘Pride of the Aftermarket’ awards, which will honour exceptional performances of companies and individuals throughout the past year.

For further details, please click here.

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ZF Aftermarket calls on Commercial Vehicle Sector to prepare for electrification

Widespread population of electric CVs just around the corner in technological terms

ZF Aftermarket is calling on the commercial vehicle sector to ensure they are well prepared for the mass electrification of its vehicles. This message goes out to motor factors, workshops and suppliers alike. Leading the way in hybrid and electric vehicle technology, ZF produces holistic system solutions which allow vehicles to see, think, and act. This enables ZF Aftermarket to anticipate industry challenges and prepare its partners at an early stage to adapt to changes; offering solutions which will be pivotal in the transition period for the HGV & LCV marketplace as it moves into the Next Generation Mobility.

“It’s ZF’s aim to help the aftermarket understand the challenges ahead and to work with its partners to ensure that the workshops are ready and prepared for future mobility,” explains ZF’s UK CV expert, James O’Gara.

At the moment, most commercial EVs are buses operating in cities due to distance travelled per charge – with some E trucks used for shorter city deliveries. However, the number of hybrid but also battery operated electric models is increasing and with it the need for service and repairs. A key message is that without the correct training, technicians are not allowed to touch an electric or hybrid vehicle; a rule which even applies to simple maintenance work on conventional vehicle components. As a leading manufacturer of products for electric vehicles in OEM quality, ZF leverages its first-hand knowledge to offer the relevant technical skills to its workshop partners in the Aftermarket.

Following the recent acquisition of WABCO, ZF now also offers the leading product and service portfolio for commercial vehicles in the aftermarket.

Through its technical training initiative, ZF offers courses which allow workshops to acquire the comprehensive knowledge necessary to deal with Next Generation Mobility. Having trained staff within ZF working on its own technology allows for a competitive advantage when it comes to educating the wider audience. 

ZF Aftermarket customer and IFA member, Dale Terry, Sales Director at HGV Direct, adds his weight to the argument for more training and increased preparation. A recent graduate of ZF’s High Voltage Expert training course, he says the valuable information he learned will help him to pass on an understanding of the technology to his customers as mobility advances.

“At some point electric vehicles will be the norm. With ever more stringent emissions targets to hit companies are looking more closely at their environmental impact and changes to larger fleets have already begun.”

Dale is in full agreement that mandatory training should be undertaken before working with EV and hybrid commercial vehicles.

 “The EV system is complex and requires in-depth knowledge to safely and correctly repair it,” he says.

“This subject should not be ignored. It’s the future for every fleet operator or commercial workshop and understanding it will allow businesses to adapt and prepare.”

“With technology advancing rapidly the market is closer to needing to find a solution than we realise,” Dale adds. “Right now, the CV aftermarket should be working closely with VMs and companies such as ZF to understand the transition timescales and provide valuable information to business owners and fleet operators. In the future this will have a direct impact on fleet renewals, carbon reduction targets and future expansion.”

“ZF Aftermarket’s objective is that all market participants understand Next Generation Mobility technologies as well as the challenges they bring and can therefore prepare at an early stage. Technological developments offer interesting growth potential for workshops but can only be used if they are prepared for it,” concludes James O’Gara.

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Four in ten drivers fail to check tyres

Fifth couldn’t say if their tyres were road legal or not

As many as four in 10 British drivers admit they don’t check their tyres often enough, new research reveals.

A survey of 2,000 motorists found one in 10 (12 per cent) never check their tyres, while a quarter (27 per cent) didn’t know when they last checked them.

Almost a fifth (18 per cent) admitted they couldn’t say if their tyres were road legal or not.

It comes despite the risk of being hit with 12 points, a £2,500 fine per tyre and even a driving ban if their car is found to be unroadworthy.

The survey also found that one in 50 of the motorists questioned thought the legal tread was just 1mm – just 27 per cent correctly named 1.6mm as the minimum legal tyre tread depth in the UK.

Peter Robb, from Continental Tyres, which commissioned the research to mark the start of Road Safety Week, said: “It is vital your car is in a roadworthy condition, and this means carrying out regular maintenance checks – particularly with an easy-to-do task like looking at the condition of your tyres.

“Driving around with worn tyres can not only be a dangerous experience, but also a costly one.

“Tyres form the essential bond between your vehicle and the ground, with the tread gripping to the road as you drive, and if there isn’t enough tread your car loses traction and your braking distance increases.

“Reduced tread depth makes it harder to control the vehicle in wet weather and the chance of aquaplaning increases, putting lives at risk inside and outside of the vehicle.”

Almost a third (29 per cent) of the drivers polled didn’t know the correct tyre pressure on their vehicle.

The survey found that if the TMPS light came on, almost four in 10 (37 per cent) wouldn’t look at the tyre immediately.

Pete Robb, from Continental Tyres, added: “As the days are getting shorter and the weather more unpredictable, it is crucial your tyres are in a roadworthy condition.

“You should regularly use a tyre tread depth gauge or simply carry out the 20p tyre test and also look for excessive shoulder wear which can indicate misalignment or other problems with your vehicle.

“Also watch out for bulges in the sidewall, as this can indicate internal tyre damage and your tyres may not be safe.

“And if your car doesn’t have a tyre pressure monitoring system, we’d recommend buying a tyre pressure gauge and carrying out regular checks.”

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Diesel prices hit new high at £1.50 a litre

Average price of petrol now topped £1.46 a litre for first time

The average price of diesel across the UK hit a new record high at £1.50 a litre.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “Fuel prices this year are setting records for all the wrong reasons, with the average price of a litre of diesel hitting £1.50 a particularly miserable milestone.

“The high prices drivers are having to endure at the pumps is also coming at a time of rising domestic energy costs and in turn inflation, which risks making the coming winter a horrendously expensive one, especially for those on lower incomes.

“The fact used car prices are so high also means that it’s even more costly for many drivers to upgrade to newer, more efficient vehicles to save themselves money.

The average price of petrol has now topped £1.46 a litre for the first time ever.

Simon added: “The price of petrol has continued to rise since it broke through the previous record high of 142.48p on 24 October, going up 3.5p in nearly three weeks.”

Experts say the prime reason for higher pump prices is the fact oil has doubled to above $80 from $40 a barrel a year ago, the price of diesel is also strongly affected by the high cost of the biodiesel.

Currently, around 10 per cent of the diesel drivers buy at the forecourt consists of biodiesel, which contributes around 16p a litre to the cost, whereas ‘pure’ diesel (93 per cent) makes up around 40p.

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Tester sentenced after admitting 55 MOT fraud offences

Test certificates issued over three months beginning at the start of the lockdown in March last year

A Yeovil MOT tester who issued 55 MOT certificates during lockdown without ever testing the vehicles has been sentenced, Somerset Live reports.

Thomas Drayton cheated his employers and the furlough scheme while also potentially putting drivers at risk, Taunton Crown Court was told.

Judge Paul Cook said: “This all came about during the course of early last year when the country went into its first lockdown.

“At the time you were employed at a nominated test and MOT centre and you were authorised to conduct MOT tests and certification to be in a roadworthy condition as required by legislation.

“Between March and June last year you claimed to have tested 55 vehicles and issued MOTs.

“The fact is no tests were conducted.”

Drayton committed the offences without the knowledge of his employer by gaining access to the premises and the MOT testing system to issue fraudulent certificates.

The court was told he was acting on the instructions of others.

When police got involved he admitted what he had done and cooperated with the investigation.

Judge Cook said: “This wasn’t simply a case of fraudulent activity, it was fraudulent activity placing the lives of people potentially at risk.”

“Your motivation was not greed but due to the fact you were concerned about the financial affairs of your family.

“You started doing it and it became difficult to extricate yourself from the enterprise.

“The effect of what you have done is to cheat the state by earning money while subject to furlough and government interventions.

“Second, cheating your employers and using a system in place in order to issue certification and cheat customers, potentially putting the lives of others at risk. You used your position of tester in order to do so.

“Because of what you did you undermine public confidence in the MOT testing process.”

He said the defendant had shown genuine remorse and was assessed as a low risk of reoffending.

Drayton, of Cedar Grove, was jailed for 10 months but the sentence was suspended for two years. He was ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work.

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EV training heavily subsidised for IGA members

Courses are available at RMI Academy of Automotive Skills sites in Lincoln, Winchester, Southam and Runcorn

The Independent Garage Association (IGA) is offering a second round of heavily subsidised Hybrid/EV Level 3 courses to its members, to help improve the shortage of EV trained technicians as EVs become more prevalent.

Hybrid/Electric Vehicle Repair Level 3 courses are now available for £250, a 60 per cent reduction to the normal member price.

IGA members can book as many places as they need, and the rate will be available for the foreseeable future.

Stuart James, IGA chief executive said: “We are lobbying the government to provide more funding to upskill technicians across the sector and support garage businesses.

“However, membership retention and growth are very strong in the meantime, leaving us in the position where we can provide subsidised Hybrid/EV training to members as a thank you for their loyalty.

“The IGA offered one hundred subsidised Hybrid/EV Level 3 courses earlier this year which were fully booked within two weeks, showing that garages want to offer Hybrid/EV services to their customers but find the cost prohibitive, particularly after the earnings lost throughout COVID-19.”

For further information, please click here.

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New car sales hit lowest October level since 1991

Plug-in vehicles now account for 16.6 per cent of all cars registered so far this year

New car registrations have fallen for the fourth consecutive month, with a decline of 24.6 per cent to 106,265 units compared to October last year, according to new figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Plug-in vehicle uptake remained positive in the month before COP26, with battery electric vehicles (BEVs) equalling their September market share of 15.2 per cent with 16,155 units, while plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) grew to 7.9 per cent or 8,382 units.

Plug-in vehicles now account for 16.6 per cent of all new car registrations in 2021, which, when joined by a further 9.1% per cent from hybrid electric vehicles means that 25.7 per cent, or more than a quarter of the new car market, has been electrified year-to-date.

Businesses and consumers are expected to take up around 287,000 of the latest zero-emission capable cars by the end of the year.

Despite this strong performance in electrified vehicle registrations, the overall market’s monthly performance was the weakest seen since October 1991.

Demand from large fleets fell by a substantial 40.4 per cent, driving most of the decline.

Private demand fell by a more modest 3.3 per cent, although this apparent small decline is compared against weak consumer uptake during the pandemic-affected October 2020.

Falls were recorded in all vehicle classes except the Mini category, although this is typically a low volume segment and so subject to volatility.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The current performance reflects the challenging supply constraints, with the industry battling against semiconductor shortages and increasingly strong economic headwinds as inflation rises, taxes increase and consumer confidence has weakened.

“Electrified vehicles, however, continue to buck the trend, with almost one in six new cars registered this year capable of zero-emission motoring, growth that is fundamental to the UK’s ability to hit its net zero targets.

“With next year looking brighter, and even more new models expected, the continuation of this transition will depend on the preservation of incentives that overcome the affordability barrier, and the ability of the public and private sectors to increase public on street charging to allay EV driver concerns.”

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Out-of-charge Tesla blocks motorists in London car park

Drivers left stuck behind Tesla on spiral ramp exit for three hours

A Tesla that ran out of charge at the exit of a carpark in London left shoppers furious last last week.

The car caused three hour tailbacks, with drivers stuck on the narrow sloped spiral exit ramp at the shopping centre in London on Wednesday.

While caught in the jam, motorists used social media to vent their outrage and share pictures of the scene.

One Reddit user wrote: “Perfect, a Tesla ran out of battery and stopped at the ramp of a 5 storey car park at Westfield.

“It has been three hours and counting.”

He posted snaps showing tens of cars trapped being the Tesla Model S, with no room for other drivers to pass.

A spokesperson for Westfield said: “A customer’s Tesla vehicle broke down on the entry ramp of the car park at around 6pm due to an empty battery.

“Westfield London’s car park team assisted the broken down vehicle and guided 10 vehicles that were behind the Tesla around it.

“Tesla car park assistance then arrived on site to support the broken down vehicle.”

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NGK stars at Saltex 2021

Ignition and sensor specialist took centre stage

NGK staff have been kept busy at the company’s first UK show appearance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

The ignition and sensor specialist took centre stage at the two-day Saltex show, which is the leading turf management event for grounds care volunteers, professionals and manufacturers, when it attracted hundreds of visitors to its stand at Birmingham’s NEC.

Many were keen to obtain a copy of NGK’s new 140-page 2021/2022 Horticultural, Agricultural and Industrial Applications catalogue which includes spark plug and glow plug technical information and applications, details of spark plug covers, and comes with installation tips to make it a must-read publication.

Visitors also tried their hands at a crazy golf competition where they could win a prize by hitting a hole in one on a course that went under the company’s record-breaking MO70 lawnmower which at Santa Pod Raceway in Northamptonshire in October 2019 became the fastest lawnmower over 1/4 mile by completing the course in just 9.49 seconds and achieving a top speed of 115.53mph.

Mark Hallam, marketing manager for NGK Spark Plugs (UK) Ltd, said: “It was great to see our customers from the horticultural sector face-to-face and to let them have a copy of our new catalogue which came hot off the press just in time for the show.

“MO70 also attracted a lot of interest as did the golf competition which proved a challenge few visitors could resist.”

NGK Spark Plugs (UK) Ltd is well known for its expertise in the horticultural arena where its spark plugs are renowned for their fast heating which makes them ideal for engines that often work in harsh conditions.

For further details, please click here.

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The Parts Alliance rebrands itself as GSF Car Parts

Factor chain introduces one trading name across all 170 sites for first time

National motor factor The Parts Alliance has rebranded to GSF Car Parts, introducing one trading name across its 170 sites.

The business, which traded locally under historic brands acquired through The Parts Alliance, officially rebranded in November.

GSF Car Parts President and COO Mark Eburne said: “This is a milestone moment for our business that marks the beginning of an exciting journey.

“Operating nationally as one brand for the first time enables us to streamline more of our processes and to implement improvements across the business more quickly and efficiently.

“This rebrand precedes an exciting period of investment in stock, staff, innovative technology and a larger UK footprint.

“What our customers can be sure of is that our network of passionate, knowledgeable and experienced staff will continue to provide the market-leading service they’re renowned for both today, tomorrow and when we become the UK’s strongest all-makes motor factor.”

Following the rebrand, The Parts Alliance will revert back to its role as a trading group that continues to allow GSF Car Parts, Dingbro and Qualvecomm to service customers and utilise the strength of its three members.

Mark continued: “The Parts Alliance was built on the strength, experience and success of every member brand it had acquired over the years.

“It was formed to bring together the best and brightest of the UK’s motor factors, and it’s this fantastic heritage that has enabled us to reach this point.

“GSF Car Parts already has an established national presence with both the independent motor trade and the general public, so we have an excellent springboard on which to launch this unified brand.

“We see a huge period of growth ahead for the automotive aftermarket.

“The ageing UK car parc and its long-term shift towards electric vehicles both provide exciting opportunities for the industry to expand, diversify and upskill.

“GSF Car Parts will be there to support customers across the UK, online and in person, to help them share in this success.”

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