Review of the year: Part 1

A look back at the news of 2014

Published:  06 January, 2015

January

During the month, research highlighted that franchised dealers lose track of vehicles after an average age of 3.4 years. This is the point when they cross into the independent sector, mostly due to the end of warranty periods and the need for the first MOT, at which point drivers become less concerned about the need for dealer maintenance.

We also had the announcement that Wendy Williamson was to take over from Brian Spratt as the new Chief Executive of the IAAF. Wendy spent her first three months shadowing Brian before taking over the reins when he retired in July.

It was also announced in January that the Diesel particulate Filter (DPF) would be included in the MOT from February due to a number of vehicles having them removed. This would start a story that would run throughout the year, as penalties were discussed, the ability to actually check the DPF was questioned and some garages continued to offer their removal, many in a covert way so the vehicle could still pass its MOT.

February

The issue of counterfeiting raised its head as Aston Martin issued a recall, having found counterfeit plastics in a number of accelerator pedals. The company had passed manufacturing of these components to a company in China but has since bought it in-house following the discovery. This was followed later in the month by a warning that owners of 'defunct' vehicle manufacturers Rover and Saab could be targeted by suppliers of counterfeit parts.

The IMI published its report into the return on investment of apprentices, revealing that on average, a garage that hires a trainee and provides them with the ability to learn the skills they need on a proper course could see a return of 150-300%. The report was followed by an ROI calculator on the IMI website later in the year and was intended to help garages decide to train the next generation of technician.

The extreme weather in the UK saw a number of heavy floods, with homes and businesses wrecked. The government announced a package for small businesses, including workshops, to get back on their feet, while automotive industry charity BEN reiterated its readiness to help those affected in whatever way they could.

March

A report announced that while 72% of garages offer some form of MOT discount, it rarely leads to any extra revenue through servicing, with many offers attracting those looking for a cheap test and not any other work. According to figures by MOT Angel, seven in 10 MOTs were booked without any accompanying service.

Warranty Direct announced that complex electronics in modern vehicles have caused a large and increasing number of warranty claims. Electrical faults have increased by two thirds over the last five years, according to the company's Reliability Index and analysis of vehicles aged over three years. 23% of vehicles on the provider's database of 50,000 vehicles need a repair every year, although Japanese cars are the most electronically reliable.

Another study highlighted that around four million vehicles in the UK had some form of wheel alignment issue. Following the wet winter, the number of potholes on roads around the UK increased, the report found that issues were experienced more with younger drivers, while older drivers recognised alignment problems and had them repaired.

April

An update to the Castrol Professional Trend Tracker showed that the franchised dealer sector had halted a seven-year decline in market share of the repair sector, while the independent market share dropped by 1%, the first falter after years of constant growth. The gap between the two markets remains wide however.

It was also announced that The Parts Alliance had been acquired by investment firm HgCapital. Associate members were not part of the acquisition although they remained represented on the board.

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