Neil Pattemore gives his assessment of the 2017 IAAF Conference.
I have been to many conferences over the years, but one of the most consistently interesting and informative is the IAAF (Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation) Conference. The IAAF is an ardent supporter of the UK aftermarket, and it is to be commended for providing a range of speakers in a relaxed environment and encouraging pertinent questions from the audience to stimulate interest and debate about our industry sector.
The conference got off to a fast start with Johnny Herbert opening the proceedings and paving the way for a variety of industry experts to give their assessment of the aftermarket in 2017.
The first such expert was Dr Julia Saini, Vice President Consulting, Frost & Sullivan, who presented ‘The importance of the aftermarket to the UK economy and the impact of Brexit on the sector’. She started by showing that the UK aftermarket sector’s turnover had increased by 2.4% to £21.6bn, delivering £12.5bn to the economy and creating an additional 1,400 jobs. This is set to rise to £28 billion by 2022 and support a total of 400,000 jobs.
This was followed by Quinten Le Hemet, General Manager of GIPA. He presented a session on ‘How global influences are impacting on the distribution structure of the UK aftermarket’. The UK currently ranks second in the G5 for new car registrations, but rather worryingly for the future of the UK aftermarket, it is the only one to show a decline in registrations this year. The presentation also included an analysis of the consolidation of parts suppliers and the increasing ownership of these large distributors by North American companies. In conclusion, Quinten felt that the growth of aftermarket companies will not be organic, but instead th result of long term strategic plans to win market share.
As an illustration of how the industry is changing, Co-Founder of WhoCanFixMyCar.com, Alistair Preston talked about ‘The rise of online service providers & the impact on the UK aftermarket’. The concept involves a customer entering their details, receiving quotations from garages involved in the WhoCanFixMyCar.com scheme, and the customer selecting their preferred garage and leaving an online review after the work has been completed. This means that a garage does not need a high visibility location and can manage their workload depending on what work they want to take on and at what price. It is reportedly already creating high volumes of new business, as well as allowing workshop suppliers to create and offer a range of special offers to the scheme’s participants.
Olaf Henning, Corporate Executive Vice President of Mahle, presented ‘How F1 technology is being used to drive developments in the automotive parts aftermarket’. Olaf explained that Mahle supplies components for more than one in every two vehicles (both on and off the road) worldwide and used the example of how the new ‘steel piston’ technology that had been developed on the track was now being fitted to road vehicle engines. He also showed how Mahle’s concept of a small 48V hybrid vehicle can help reduce mobility costs and efficiencies in the future.
Also looking further ahead was Steve Nash, Chief Executive of the IMI, who covered ‘Future technologies and their impact on the automotive aftermarket’. In particular he focused on how technicians need to be certified to work on hybrid or full electric vehicles, and he also considered that future vehicle sales models will become ‘direct sales leasing plans’, that ‘who owns the data’ will be crucial and that cybersecurity will become ever more critical.
Last, but not least, yours truly gave a summary of the ‘Latest technical threats emerging from the UK and Europe – progress made in the last 12 months’. This included the very intense lobbying work that was undertaken to protect the rights and abilities of the aftermarket, not only to allow continued work on vehicles, but also how the issue is being addressed for future technical challenges, which will require new legislation both in Europe and – after Brexit – in the UK. This included the Vehicle Type Approval revision and access to repair and maintenance information (RMI) where the very real threat of closing the 16 pin OBD may at last have been diverted.
Exactly what data will actually be available is still to be addressed, as is whether some form of access certificate will still be required. The new challenges of remote access to in-vehicle data will be a major political activity in 2018 and the scale of the challenge was illustrated with the first example of ‘Extended Vehicle’ data. This showed that the current proposal will provide around 0.15% of what the aftermarket uses – not a good basis for future vehicle repair requirements! The TRL report for remote access to the vehicle, its data and resources may help. This is being supported with a significant launch of the Right 2 Connect Campaign (R2CC), which will raise awareness of these discriminatory issues and the need for robust legislation.
It was altogether a thoroughly informative and enjoyable conference which underlines the value of the IAAF as a highly professional federation, committed to supporting the future of the aftermarket against a range of challenges and clearly providing excellent benefits, such as this conference, to its members.