How the UK aftermarket is enduring Brexit and lockdown

The last time Tyres & Accessories took a close look at the aftermarket sector back in July 2019, we took the optimistic view that the UK aftermarket space would be able to weather the Brexit storm. Of course, back then Brexit and trans-Atlantic trade wars were the most significant pressures on aftermarket parts segment. Now, however, things are considerably more complex and unpredictable. So, in this analysis we examine the most recent pre-lockdown data as well the latest mid-lockdown information in order to answer the question: is the UK aftermarket still weathering the storm?

The United Kingdom automotive aftermarket sector reached a value of $30.6 billion (£24.6 billion) last year, according to MarketLine data, which is calculated in US-dollars. This figure means the UK aftermarket grew 3.9 per cent, which remains a healthy pre-corona figure albeit slower growth than the 4.9 per cent and $28.5 billion total (£22.53 billion) a year earlier.

Tyrepress Podcast: Autogem’s Prashant Chopra

Autogem

Autogem unveils I-sensor Pro advanced handheld TPMS solution

Autogem has launched a new, advanced TPMS handheld solution, the I-sensor Pro, in an online event for customers. The device upgrades the original I-sensor, offering customers increased time-saving and potential revenue generation. The I-sensor Pro features Wi-Fi connectivity, wireless Bluetooth and an integrated auto-focus camera, allowing for instant, personalised tyre pressure reporting. It also features a completely integrated tread depth measuring device. The original i-sensor handheld TPMS servicing device was launched in 2013, and has since sold more than 3,500 units in the UK.
Autogem

Autogem introduces multi-use face masks for garages

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Autogem has created a triple-layer, reusable anti-bacterial facemask. The new product has been added to the TPMS and workshop consumables supplier in response to the needs of customers during the COVID-19 outbreak. The ‘gemCare’ masks, which are non-medical grade and will therefore not affect the supply chain to the NHS, are designed by medical professionals. Autogem added that the masks are intended to complement other protective measures, such as washing hands and maintaining social distancing.

Autogem upgrades tyre diagnostics range

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Autogem has unveiled its second generation Treadspec drive-over scanners, offering a more efficient and simplified way to perform simple tyre checks for wear, alignment issues and inflation. The Treadspec 2.0 supplements the company’s Groove Glove, which allows garage mechanics to scan all four tyres on any given vehicle and discover the tread depth and alignment of each within 50 seconds.

Autogem to distribute Michelin Pro-Series Hybrid wiper blades

Autogem has begun 2020 with an exclusive agreement to become sole trade distributor of Michelin Pro-Series Hybrid wiper blades. Autogem said the new addition to its portfolio fits its philosophy of assisting its installer partners with industry-leading products which save time, improve engagement and increase revenue streams. Examples of this can also be seen in Autogem’s Groove Glove and i-sensor TPMS tools, which the company states are amongst the fastest selling universal TPMS solutions anywhere.

Tyrepress Podcast: Pro-Align’s Clive Seabrook

Pro Align

Pro-Align: Quick Check Drive is ‘a wheel servicing revolution’

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The development of modern car technology has accelerated as fast as ever before and manufacturers producing the systems that allow workshops to service these vehicles effectively have also developed at a fast rate. In some cases, the development has been a technological necessity needed to keep pace with vehicle development, but in other cases, the development is driven by the vision to provide a better, more efficient servicing solution.
Pro-Align

EV growth demands alternative tyre servicing solution

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While sales of eco-friendly electric and hybrid cars have been slowly accelerating for a number of years, figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that for the first time ever, sales of new electric and hybrid cars recently overtook that of diesels for the first time ever. Although we’re probably still some time away from the real tipping point of mass adoption of electric vehicles in the UK, workshops are being advised that they need to prepare for this now, as they will only see more and more EVs and hybrids coming through their doors.
Hunter

BMW approves Hunter RoadForce Elite wheel vibration diagnostics

BMW AG has approved the Hunter RoadForce Elite (RFE) diagnostic wheel balancer in its global workshops. The system, distributed in the UK by Hunter partner Pro-Align, simulates the forces of the tyre on the road to match more accurately running conditions, and therefore increase ride comfort. The system is also designed to increase efficiency, helping to resolve the most challenging wheel vibration issues.

Pro-Align adopted a service-orientated stance during lockdown (Photo: Pro-Align)Pro-Align

How Pro Align is helping garages revive margins post-lockdown

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Roughly 18 months after Clive Seabrook joined Pro-Align, Tyres & Accessories caught up with the relatively new CEO in order to find out more about how the right equipment and services can add value to garage businesses, especially in the post-lockdown environment. Challenging times need innovative solutions, so Pro Align responded to the pressures brought about by lockdown by seeing by choosing not to approach the circumstances as a commercial opportunity, but rather by responding to the customer instead:

Pro-Align launches ‘Ultimate Starter Bundle’

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Pro-Align is targeting workshops looking to grow their business in 2020 with a new offer designed to reduce equipment investment costs and lower the bar to improving service capabilities. The £9,999 Ultimate Starter Bundle includes three key workshop systems, offering a saving of almost £2,000 when compared with buying the pieces of equipment individually (which would cost £11,985). Included within the bundle are the Hunter TCX 52 tyre changer, the Hunter SmartWeight Pro wheel balancer and a Teknel Butterfly induction heater, making it an ideal package for those looking to enter tyre servicing, upgrade or replace existing equipment.

MOTs worth £177 million a year in UK tyre sales

MOTs influence the sale of up to a quarter of a billion pounds-worth of replacement tyre sales in the UK each year

Together, the increased utilisation of independent contractors on the supply side and record online search figures on the demand side show that MOT testing is booming. Considering that MOTs were put on hold for roughly four-and-a-half months between March and August (let’s not even mention the Northern Ireland MOT crisis), this is good news. Word of a coming MOT spike will be warmly welcomed by the tyre and aftermarket associations that lobbied government for the end of the MOT extension on both road safety and economic grounds. But what exactly does the apparent boom look like? And why does it matter to the tyre trade?

MOT demand set to double in the last quarter of 2020

Demand for MOT tests is expected to double in the last four months of 2020 (Photo: Ryan Doka; Pixabay)

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is encouraging motorists to get their delayed MOT test done this summer ahead of a surge in demand in the Autumn. The projections, based on due dates and vehicle MOT expiry dates, show that demand for MOTs will be at around 3.4 million in September, 4.8 million in October and November and 4.2 million in December. This demand is predicted to be around double the normal volumes (approx. 2.5 million per month). However, August demand is predicted to be just over 2 million MOTs, which is fewer than usual.

DVSA’s predictions of double MOT demand are even more pronounced that Halfords’ earlier projections of an 85 per cent uptick in demand. Halfords based its analysis on the grounds that 1.7 million drivers will try to book their MOT in October, on top of the normal demand of about 2 million vehicles.

12.5 million motorists may have skipped car service due to COVID-19

Despite nearly half (47%) claiming that they were concerned about the safety of their vehicle, fewer than four in 10 (38%) were comfortable doing maintenance work on their car themselves. (Photo: Skica911; Pixabay)

A third of UK motorists (32%) have put off getting their car serviced because COVID-19 financial pressure, according to BookMyGarage.com.

BookMyGarage surveyed 10,000 of its subscribers and found that, in addition, a similar number (29%) of drivers delayed servicing procedures simply because their car had covered far fewer miles during lockdown.

While more than half (56%) used the Government’s MOT exemption, the number of drivers who have also put off servicing equates to around 12.5 million cars across the UK’s total of 38.2 million registered vehicles.

End of MOT extension ‘will make the roads safer’ – IAAF

Wendy Williamson, IAAF chief executive

The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) welcomed the end of the MOT extension period on 1 August. The federation argues that the move will not only significantly increase road safety but will give a much-needed boost to the automotive sector overall.

The IAAF previously stated that delaying MOTs for a six-month period causes “huge challenges” for the sector, as it inevitably results in thousands of dangerous vehicles in operation, posing huge safety risks. The federation believes the announcement will ensure this number is significantly reduced.

How Pro Align is helping garages revive margins post-lockdown

Pro-Align adopted a service-orientated stance during lockdown (Photo: Pro-Align)

Pro-Align adopted a service-orientated stance during lockdown (Photo: Pro-Align)

Roughly 18 months after Clive Seabrook joined Pro-Align, Tyres & Accessories caught up with the relatively new CEO in order to find out more about how the right equipment and services can add value to garage businesses, especially in the post-lockdown environment.

Challenging times need innovative solutions, so Pro Align responded to the pressures brought about by lockdown by seeing by choosing not to approach the circumstances as a commercial opportunity, but rather by responding to the customer instead: “We adopted the stance that we are providing a service”, said Seabrook, adding this that meant the message was that Pro Align wanted to ensure that customers could continue to do what they wanted to do during the period.

Autogem unveils I-sensor Pro advanced handheld TPMS solution

Autogem’s new I-sensor Pro

Autogem has launched a new, advanced TPMS handheld solution, the I-sensor Pro, in an online event for customers. The device upgrades the original I-sensor, offering customers increased time-saving and potential revenue generation. The I-sensor Pro features Wi-Fi connectivity, wireless Bluetooth and an integrated auto-focus camera, allowing for instant, personalised tyre pressure reporting. It also features a completely integrated tread depth measuring device. The original i-sensor handheld TPMS servicing device was launched in 2013, and has since sold more than 3,500 units in the UK. The I-sensor Pro, like the original, duplicates sensors electronically or manually and can create a brand new, unique sensor in a matter of seconds. It diagnoses sensors at the wheel side and boasts 99 per cent coverage of all direct TPMS vehicles in the UK and also includes American vehicle software coverage as standard.

Trico rebrands as First Brands Group, acquires US brakes, filtration companies

Trico is reminding technicians of customer care best practice, which in turn leads to valuable sales opportunities

Trico is primarily known in the UK as a wiper blade specialist (Photo: Trico)

The automotive replacement parts manufacturer, Trico Group, has announced its new name: First Brands Group, along with the addition of two new brands to its growing portfolio. The company said the adoption of its new identity “reflects its position as a multi-brand global player.” First Brands Group also announced the acquisition of two market-leading US manufacturing companies: brake parts specialist Brake Parts Inc (BPI) and filtration expert, Champion Laboratories Inc (Champ Labs).

Euro Car Parts becomes ‘LKQ Euro Car Parts’

The Euro Car Parts and Andrew Page businesses are to rebrand as ‘LKQ Euro Car Parts’. LKQ Euro Car Parts says the decision reflects its position as a leading business in the UK and European aftermarket sectors with the largest network of outlets, the best technical expertise, widest product choice and most competitive prices. All branches will move under the new LKQ Euro Car Parts banner as part of a phased roll-out, and all employees will now gain access to the same information and systems.

IAAF goes virtual to keep industry connected

Aftermarket businesses have had to adapt due to the current pandemic, and the way in which professionals connect and engage with one another is no exception. As a result, members of the Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) are now being offered the opportunity to keep up to date with industry insights, trends and opportunities through a virtual platform.

Delphi Technologies expands brake range

Delphi Technologies expands brake range

Delphi Technologies has added to its aftermarket braking range in Europe. In 2019 the company launched more than 130 new brake pads and discs for popular new vehicles, including a growing parc of Asian applications and hybrid and electric cars. Fitted to an additional 19 million vehicles, the company now offers more than 97 per cent coverage on brake discs and 98.58 per cent on pads, in Europe.

Brembo OE on Polestar 2

Brembo is to produce the two-piece four-piston aluminium front calipers and Brembo’s exclusive dual-cast floating brake disc for the Polestar 2 (Photo: Brembo)

Brembo is to produce the two-piece four-piston aluminium front calipers for the Polestar 2 (Photo: Brembo)

Brembo is to supply brake calipers and discs for the new Polestar 2. Specifically, Brembo is to produce the two-piece four-piston aluminium front calipers and Brembo’s exclusive dual-cast floating brake disc for the Polestar 2. Accenting their lightweight aluminium construction, Polestar highlights the aero sculpted Polestar 2 calipers with a distinctive copper gold color that captures the eye and communicates that this Polestar has a Brembo brake system.

Denso webinars ‘go from strength to strength’

Introduced in response to the coronavirus crisis to provide technicians with ongoing training during the restrictions imposed by the country’s lockdown measures, Denso Aftermarket’s webinar programme has proved immensely popular. As a result, alongside the original air conditioning and thermal management modules, which will remain, new product categories will join them as the company shares its wealth of technical knowledge derived from decades of original equipment design and production experience.

Ecobat offers start-stop battery training

The Ecobat EBT780 battery test tool allows users to understand the condition of the battery and the onscreen result can be printed and given to the owner. (Photo: Ecobat)

The Ecobat EBT780 battery test tool allows users to understand the condition of the battery and the onscreen result can be printed and given to the owner.
(Photo: Ecobat)

Following the launch of its One Box start-stop battery testing and installation solution at Automechanika Birmingham last June, Ecobat Battery Technologies (Ecobat), has further developed its offering with the release of a free start-stop battery training, assessment and certification.

Schaeffler adds INA installation guides to Repxpert

Following the successful launch of its LuK clutch step-by-step replacement guides on the Repxpert online technical portal in March, Schaeffler UK is now adding more detailed installation guides – this time covering INA belt systems. The original equipment manufacturer has a hard-won reputation for empowering technicians with the vital technical knowledge they need to carry out safe, reliable and professional repairs, and this latest development continues to underpin this long-term philosophy.

PCL invests in new electronic testing and development facility

New testing facility

Senior Electronics Development Engineer, Michael Crookes

Led by Senior Electronics Development Engineer, Michael Crookes, the introduction of the new electronic testing facility and role will “enable PCL to test and develop electronic products in-house at its state-of-the-art Sheffield HQ”, according to the company.

Autogem introduces multi-use face masks for garages

Autogem has added its gemCare facemask to its product range in response to garages’ demand for anti-Coronavirus measures

Autogem has created a triple-layer, reusable anti-bacterial facemask. The new product has been added to the TPMS and workshop consumables supplier in response to the needs of customers during the COVID-19 outbreak. The ‘gemCare’ masks, which are non-medical grade and will therefore not affect the supply chain to the NHS, are designed by medical professionals.

ECP launches back-to-work packs to help garages reopen safely

ECP’s Back-to-Work pack

Euro Car Parts has created a new product bundle to help garages access essential cleaning equipment and PPE. Garages can buy a ‘Back to Work Pack’ complete with a 500ml antibacterial hand sanitising gel, a 500ml surface disinfectant spray, 25 pairs of gloves, 25 large, heavy duty refuse bags and six 2-ply blue rolls.

Ring pushes forward with new safety measures

Ring Automotive has taken the appropriate steps to keep the supply chain moving safely and securely and has now fully opened its warehouse with greater capacity than before to continue to support customers, the transport industry and key workers. During the coronavirus pandemic, Ring’s warehouse has been operating all day, every day, albeit with a reduced level of staff and strict safety measures in place to allow for the shipment of both emergency orders and other customer orders.