This is the final newsletter of 2014 and this certainly has been a year of change. Companies have come and gone, technologies and emissions have been in the spotlight and the industry has had to adapt. Yet rather than look back, I’d like to look forward to what next year may bring.
I personally feel that 2015 will be a bigger year of change. When I started at Aftermarket at the end of 2013, one statistic I learnt was that vehicles usually fall into the independent workshop sector after 3.4 years. Looking at the cars that are coming up to that age, we can see an increase in Diesels, hybrids, EVs and the smaller turbocharged engines. These are the cars you can expect to be coming through your doors soon and it’s incredible to think that engines such as Ford’s EcoBoost are of that age.
These smaller engines offer more complex layouts and components, require specific oils and coolants and more attention. Hybrids and EVs bring about their own challenges; you can even class a stop/start vehicle as a micro-hybrid requiring more complex batteries and electronics.
One of the biggest challenges that will face the industry over the coming months is the rights over access to vehicle data. This was one of the most hotly talked about topics at the recent IAAF conference and has been throughout the year. It is an issue that involves us all, as without access, independent workshops will not be able to work on vehicle systems, effectively shutting down the market in favour of the VM preferred garages. There is a big push from lobbying groups and market bodies in Europe to ensure that this does not happen and that VMs play fairly, yet it is a debate that will rumble on. As work continues on the ‘connected car’ 2015 could well be a make or break year for our industry.
There is also the issue of the MOT moving to an online system in the latter half of 2015. As long as the fiasco over the tax disc is not repeated, with servers able to cope with an extreme number of users in one period, it could offer a benefit. However garages will be required to provide their own computer equipment.
However, a challenge and change in technology can always be a good thing. The Castrol Trend Tracker has shown that the market share gap between independents and franchised dealers has widened again with independents having a commanding lead, mainly down to the fall in the number of ‘DIY’ mechanics, as the public begin to realise that what were once simple fixes are now no longer.
2015 is certainly going to be an interesting year, one of change and challenges but hopefully for the better. In the meantime, have a great festive period!