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The 25th international exhibition of automotive equipment and products for the aftermarket hosted at BolognaFiere, closed its doors with a positive balance sheet. The record for numbers of exhibitors and display area was sealed also by an increase in visitors from abroad who were influenced by the event’s international flavour, business proposals and specialized content

Mino De Rigo

FOR FIVE DAYS Bologna returned to being the capital of the automotive aftermarket thanks to Autopromotec, the appointment that celebrated its 25th anniversary with an extensive, well-organized and engaging edition. An international showcase for the aftermarket and garage equipment supply chain that was once again a global reference point, despite a negative economy, not only because of the number of exhibitors form abroad (584 representing 52 countries out of the record total of 1,512), an increase of 7.5% compared to the 2011 edition, but also and above all because of massive attendance by operators from abroad: 18,942, up 2.2%, out of the 102,536 people who crossed the threshold of the Bologna exhibition district. An exhibition that comforted the entire sector: a huge setting of over 156,000 square metres, a collector of requests from a lively market, an intersection for meetings and discussions on a multitude of subjects, the strategic centre of wide-ranging promotional and commercial actions, and the launch pad for new trends. “Thanks to the results” - BolognaFiere president Duccio Campagnoli stated – “the partnership with Autopromotec has been confirmed as being a decisive support for Made in Italy and the Italian automotive segment, as has the role of our district as the hub of meetings by operators from Asia, Europe and the Americas”. 

Showcase and business combined
The excellent feedback” –  added Renzo Servadei, patron of the event – “goes against the general trend in the exhibition and automotive sectors and demonstrates the appropriateness of an approach that can be summed up by three nouns - specialization, internationalization and quality. Autopromotec is the preferred location for doing business and an observatory for looking at the future. It has the ability to monopolize the interest of professionals from all over the world, who have found the latest products and services in addition to real business opportunities”. With all the product sectors represented: from spare parts, components and car services to tyres and the relevant equipment, from garage equipment to machine tools, compressors and car care, to coachwork products, from carwash systems and breakdown vehicles to diagnostic systems, services and equipment for trucks. An all-round showcase for a global market: the automotive aftermarket is such that if Europe is marking time, this opens up for the national industry new channels for development overseas, and above all in BRIC, which have become large manufacturers of vehicles and are the preferred outlets for products from the Old Continent, where technological content and innovation are, without doubt, an added value. A symbol of Italy’s most obvious talent for exporting; the firms that make garage equipment were at the Bologna fair in closed ranks.

Italy leader of garage equipment
Confirming” – emphasized Giorgio Cometti, president of Aica, the sector association – “that Italy is and will continue to be the main reference. We have the world’s biggest concentration of garage equipment manufacturers in industrial districts, where specialized labour and know-how are such that they even attract manufacturing firms from abroad. We export over 70% of what we make and at the fair we highlighted the extraordinary concentration of technologies that distinguishes us”.  An ability to innovate that contributes to the domestic automotive supply chain’s positive balance sheet (increased to €7.5 billion) and is an obligatory figure also for vehicle servicing centres, the future of which is intertwined with healthy injections of hi-tech for constant updating, something that has been demonstrated repeatedly at the conference sessions of the rich AutopromotecEdu programme. It was inaugurated by a meeting that painted a portrait of the workshop of the near future and outlined the horizons of maintenance and repairs. A segment that has a value of almost €27 billion for cars alone (based on Autopromotec Observatory data), that is anti-cyclical by definition, and the dynamics of which, according to GiPA analysts, show that the universe of car repairers has shrunk and that within a decade their numbers will have declined by 18% to 55,835 workshops.  But there is also substantial  renewal with the pursuit of efficiency leading to bigger and better-equipped structures. Although tyre specialists have held on better than other operators (from 2000 to date, the decline is about 8%), a haemorrhage there has been, especially among independent mechanics (almost 10,000 fewer in the same period); today the challenge is between aspiring fast fitter tyre specialists and multi-brand services that aim to expand business to include tyres.

Car repairs – a global market
A partial response could be the propensity to invest: at the head of the classification are dealers and authorized garages with average investments in 2012 of over €14,000 and €13,000, respectively; they are followed by tyre specialists, just under €11,000, while on average, independent firms spent half that. The car repair market has paid for the considerable reduction in registrations and the downturn in average annual travel, albeit by only 2%, but the number of vehicles in circulation is stable and they are ageing.  The number of visits to garages is also stable but the maintenance circuits are narrower; when customers choose a garage they expect the service to cover all areas of work. AutopromotecEdu unravelled a packed calendar of appointments that not only gave a 360 degree panorama of the aftermarket universe in Italy and in countries with more receptive markets (theme meetings were dedicated to Turkey, the United States and Brazil), but also proposed a range of technical seminars on training and updating and occasions for professional growth that are popular with operators, as demonstrated by the continually substantial attendance. And by providing the setting for the fourth edition of the International Automotive Aftermarket Meeting, previously known as the European Automotive Aftermarket Symposium, the main sector conference at world level, Autopromotec has reconfirmed the importance of a fair whose organizers, encouraged by the results, are already at work on preparing the 2015 edition: a fixed date in the calendar, from 20 to 24 May.

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