April car production was basically non-existant in the UK. The country’s output for the month was the lowest since the Second World War, down -99.7 per cent, according to Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) figures. The coronavirus lockdown forced plants to close, meaning just 197 premium, luxury and sports cars left factory gates in the month. These were models that had been assembled prior to shutdowns with only finishing touches needed.
Tyre distributors from across the country have come together to support the restarting of the tyre trade. Large and small retailers from St Helens to the South East worked together to produce the inaugural Tyrepress webinar entitled “Kick-starting your tyre business’.
Kerr’s Tyres & Auto, one of Northern Ireland’s leading suppliers of tyres and automotive services, has secured a half-million pound loan from Ulster Bank to support it through the coronavirus crisis. It has been delivered through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).
The Independent Garage Association (IGA) is launching a Covid-19 compliance certification scheme for garages wishing to demonstrate to their customers that the environment is safe. The scheme is based on the Government’s safe working guidelines to prevent coronavirus transmission and will underpin the IGA’s case to overturn the six-month MOT extension by providing evidence that garages are safe places for consumers to visit.
The IAAF is continuing to call for the MOT extension to be scrapped and has written to government to get the decision overturned. In various communications with DVSA and Department for Transport, IAAF chief executive, Wendy Williamson said the decision to extend the MOT “will inevitably have a serious impact on road safety as road worthiness can alter greatly during this period. There is also the obvious concern that due to this postponement there could be thousands of vehicles on the road that are dangerous and unroadworthy.”
Prometeon Tyre Group is donating one euro for each tyre sold in Europe in May to the International Committee of the Red Cross’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of its Together initiative, Prometeon has invited suppliers, customers and its staff to donate as well. Furthermore, Prometeon will match its suppliers’ contributions.
A survey among of over 900 decision-makers within UK businesses has found that: 57 per cent of UK private sector organisations are considering expansion into new global markets in the near future as a result of COVID-19. The research, commissioned by One World Express, also found that 45 per cent of businesses say the pandemic has made them realise they are overly reliant on one market. At the same time, 44 per cent are looking to expand into markets outside of the Single Market due to Brexit.
European lockdowns have caused sever interruptions to many in the tyre industry. But as the continent’s businesses enter a new phase of reopening, it is important to understand how this can be achieved while minimising the associated risks. Due to the different national timelines involved in this process, UK businesses may look to mainland countries a little further along this journey to see how they are proceeding. Tyres & Accessories spoke to the COO and president of Falken Tyre Europe, Markus Bögner, about how the Offenbach, Germany based company – part of Japan’s Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI) – has weathered lockdown, and is now beginning to “see positive changes” in key European markets.
Demand for renting private parking spaces in or near city centres has increased dramatically in the past few weeks, according to ParkLet, the UK’s largest parking space letting agent. The company, which initially experienced an 82 per cent slump in demand at the beginning of the UK’s lockdown period, has since seen a 47 per cent rise above normal April volumes (and similar for May), as the country’s employees avoid using public transport and instead switch to driving to and from their workplace. With traditional city-centre parking often being overcrowded and overpriced, it appears many commuters are looking at alternative options such as renting private parking spaces.
Motorsport UK will invite online permit applications from 1 June 2020. The organisation is hoping to get the season underway following lockdown on 4 July, the earliest opportunity after its suspension expires on 30 June. The UK governing body said that it has continued “positive dialogue with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport”, during which it set out its strategy for giving motorsport disciplines the green flag. However, July events will not include national championships, as the governing body seeks to limit the potential for interregional and international travel – though FIA championships are specifically exempt from this rule, allowing for the proposed Formula 1 grands prix to go ahead at Silverstone later in the month. Motorsport UK’s board is due to meet on 3 June, after which more details will be released.
European automotive business organisations and trade unions have called on the European Commission to set out a “bold industrial recovery plan” following the Covid-19 pandemic. IndustriAll Europe, Ceemet, ACEA, CLEPA, CECRA, and ETRMA want a plan to stimulate sales and revive production, while supporting the industry’s “journey towards a carbon-neutral future, based on the Green Deal and Europe’s climate objectives.” The associations want to address fears that the recession will dwarf the effects of the 2008 financial crisis, in which it says 440,000 auto sector jobs were lost.
While much of the tyre industry has helped keep Britain rolling during the coronavirus lockdown, commercial vehicle technicians have played a particularly key role since they have serviced the fleets that have kept the blue lights flashing, the food deliveries moving and much more. In order to gain an inside perspective, Tyres & Accessories spoke with Bridgestone North Region Commercial Business Unit Director Greg Ward who, prior to his promotion into this role in October 2019, served as the company’s commercial sales director, UK and Ireland, for 17 years.