Associations in Motion - AICA and Auto Care kick off regular global conferences among industry associations

"It couldn't get any better," is the warm comment of AICA Secretary General Renzo Servadei at the conclusion of the first Associations in Motion meeting, held online last June 22, which was attended by 14 professional aftermarket associations from around the world. The idea of a global industry conference sparked at a meeting in November 2019 in Las Vegas and successfully saw the light thanks to careful preparation by AICA and Auto Care, the American automotive aftermarket association, a steady collaboration also within the framework of their respective trade shows, Auropromotec and AAPEX. The declared ambition is to see the widest possible cross-section of the aftermarket world represented was amply fulfilled: the 14 associations around the table represented almost all of America with, among others, the USA, Canada, Mexico and Brazil, Europe with EGEA, as well as AICA for Italy, China, India, Australia and Turkey. As Bill Hanvey, president of Auto Care, noted, a significant part of an industry made up of 1.4 billion vehicles and more than 1 trillion dollars in annual global sales was present at the table. The meeting, whose primary purpose was to share major issues and identify areas of common interest to work on, began with Thierry Coton, president of EGEA-EU, and Jean Francoise Champagne, president of AIA-Canada, who spoke on automotive technological innovation and its consequences in the aftermarket. As vehicles and mobility in general become more digital, the sector finds itself facing a threat and an opportunity at the same time. Computers and software will make up 75% of the cost of a vehicle by 2035, which will be capable of producing 25 GB data/hour, thus evolving into a true IoT end-point; this entails great changes for the aftermarket sector both from a professional and a competitive point of view. Just one example: over-the-air software upgrades; will independent suppliers be able to offer compliant products? And the question is not only about the necessary guarantees that laws and regulations must provide, but also about the technological-productive evolution of the same suppliers who will have to deal with increasingly sophisticated standards and regulations. Coton compared the evolution of the sector to that of the medical world: we are facing a transition from “general practitioners” to specialists who must deal with the most advanced diagnosis and repair techniques. As Champagne nicely summarized, "If you're not compliant, you cannot provide your product or service." Against this backdrop, Bill Hanvey, president of Auto Care, raised the question of the role of associations and the services they can provide. The majority of those in attendance agreed that associations need to cooperate for up-to-date professional training especially for the independent market. But the changes taking place go beyond the technological aspect; the recent pandemic has reinforced important behavioural, social and economic changes that were already in embryo, and associations now find themselves having to review their activities to consolidate their position. Stuart Charity, president of AAAA - Australia, analysed important activities performed by associations such as membership, events, training and accreditation, publications, sponsorship and government subsidies, concluding in a few words that the only certainty is that everything has changed, and it takes extra effort, intelligence and courage to adapt to the new circumstances. The debate that followed highlighted the fact that the problem is global and for this reason the exchange of ideas and experiences between associations will be of enormous help for everyone to adapt and progress despite the changes. Many more were the topics of interest and points of discussion, but we preferred to focus on the most important ones because Associations in Motion does not end here. The next appointment is scheduled for November in Las Vegas at the AAPEX exhibition which will hopefully be a physical event. As stated initially, AICA and Auto Care intend to make the appointment a regular one to be held twice a year: in May, during Autopromotec, and in November at AAPEX. Thus, the associations will be able to discuss important issues and develop possible collaborations taking advantage of two Trade Shows such as Autopromotec and AAPEX, global references for the entire car repair sector.