A rallying call

The IAAF focuses on 'survive and thrive'

Published:  01 February, 2016

The IAAF annual conference in 2015 ran under the title ‘Survive and thrive’, indicating to the industry that the aftermarket can succeed if it overcomes the challenges that have been put in its way.

For the second year in succession the event was held at the International Conference Centre in Birmingham and addressed some of the major issues affecting the industry, as well as considering the level of impact ever-changing technology will have on the aftermarket in the future with its ceaseless development. Speakers focused on the challenges that face the industry from technology and legislation but were keen to highlight areas of hope.

Topics ranged from the impact of the rise in hybrid vehicle sales and technical threats from the EU to how 3D printing could benefit the industry. Compared by BBC Sports presenter John Inverdale, the event was enjoyed by all and created a number of talking points during the session breaks.

First up on stage was IAAF Chief Executive Wendy Williamson, who discussed the threats both at home and abroad: “Last year we talked about the threat of eCall, now we are looking at the connected car and with it, more potential issues that will affect us. We are facing a potential lock-out from all new vehicles and I believe this is a much greater threat than we had ten years ago with block exemption. Technology seems to be outpacing the legislators, and just to give you one example, Volvo will control the functionality of the 16-pin socket in the XC90 from January 2016. Yes the aftermarket can still access the vehicle but garages will have to have pre-verified diagnostic tools to access the information they need and pay on a case by case basis. This means that Volvo will know what repairs are being done, when and by whom.

“We must not underestimate the power and influence that the VMs have, particularly in Brussels. While the VW scandal has almost certainly dented their credibility, they still command an imposing lobby group with over 140 dedicated lobbyists between them they are a formidable group. With a team of just four in FIGIEFA, it is a David and Goliath battle; however we must continue to support them for the benefit of our industry.”

Home issues

Wendy was also keen to point out that as well as challenges from Europe, the IAAF is facing challenges on both a global and national scale: “This is not the only threat coming out of the EU, with issues around type approval, design protection and as a result of changes in how the EU commission is structured, 12 months after the Riccardo report was published, still no action. There is also a change in technical presence occurring on the roads with hybrids having a strong presence. Driverless cars are also very much a reality as a 100 vehicle test is due to start in Gothenburg in 2017. The recommendations on climate change will also limit fossil fuels, having a significant impact on the vehicles of the future. Our marketplace is changing forever and it is vital that we keep up this fight to ensure we in the aftermarket are not left on the side-lines.

“Closer to home we have also had problems with our own government. George Osborne dropped a bombshell in the summer with the announcement of proposed changes to the MOT by moving it to a 4-1-1 system. This took everyone by surprise including the DfT and the IAAF has joined forces with the Automotive Aftermarket Liaison Group (AALG) to fight this proposed change. In conjunction with Maitland, the London-based lobbying specialists, the proMOTe campaign has been resurrected and the case has been built primarily on safety grounds. We are now waiting for the consultation to appear which has been delayed until early 2016.”

Warranty figures

Following on from Williamson, Quentin Le Hetet from GIPA revealed some surprising statistics about drivers’ lack of knowledge regarding their rights when it comes to servicing newer vehicles outside the manufacturer network. He also highlighted the need for the independent aftermarket to prepare itself for the rapid increase of hybrid cars and to also educate the public about the services it offers as dealerships can currently take advantage of drivers’ lack of information.

Le Hetlet comments: “Only 27% of UK drivers are aware of the rule that you can have your car serviced anywhere without affecting warranty, with 46% believing that they need to keep going to a dealership. It is crazy and means that we need to educate them, so they understand that they can go anywhere that is not within the manufacturer network. In Germany, 40% of drivers are aware that they can go anywhere while in France, 42% are aware. In both the countries the advertising of purchasing groups and their garage networks includes phrases that highlights that warranty is unaffected.

When it came to garages and vehicle technology, Le Hetet revealed some interesting and concerning results: “We also asked the aftermarket if they were prepared to service hybrid vehicles. It was surprising to find that 82% said no, they are not prepared to service them. With the growth of these vehicles in the market, the garages need to be ready and education is once again key in this.” The conversation on hybrids swiftly moved on with Steve Carter from Exponentia urging the industry to ready itself for the rapid increase of hybrid cars. With growing concern for the environment and emission standards constantly changing, Ford has announced that 40% of its new cars will have electric or hybrid engines in the next four years, and so it is essential the aftermarket adapts for the “beginning of the end for the internal combustion engine.”

The primary concerns raised this year therefore are more challenging but not impossible to overcome. While the IAAF continues its fight for the industry in the UK and the EU together with its partners, garages need to educate both customers and themselves in order to ensure maximum success. As the title indicated, it is indeed possible to survive and thrive!

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