HEADING TOWARDS A YEAR FULL OF CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
38th AICA National Assembly
The 38th AICA National Assembly focused on concrete action and proactivity, looking for ideas and tools to act: innovation, international promotion, access to credit and quality emerged as the strong points to best face a new year that seems to be full of changes and opportunities. The fronts on which to work on will be many and varied and as always, the participation and direct involvement of the partners will be the necessary conditions for success.
Competitiveness, internationality and farsightedness
“Many analysts explain that, in a world marked by speed and competition, there is no time left for reflection, and this is not without consequences, because it causes a general impoverishment of the ability to understand the reality that surrounds us. Only if we are able to reflect will we be able to find our way." With these words, AICA president Giorgio Cometti, opened the 38th National Assembly of the Association, held in Bologna on 14 December last year. Applying this approach, at the same time analytical and practical, to the sector, there are many different issues to address, starting from liquidity problems and difficulty in accessing credit, which penalises the activity of so many operators.
Another issue that continues to engage AICA is the defence of the Made in Italy model, which has already involved several important activities - such as the presence of a help desk of the Ministry for Economic Development at the last Autopromotec exhibition - but for which a lot remains to be done, because globalisation makes it difficult to define the exact boundaries of Made in Italy.
Then we have the ever-evolving issue of technical standards. With reference to this subject, president Cometti stated that " in many cases, the official meetings on the evolution of periodic inspection of vehicles are held directly at our headquarters", in a few months the new headquarters will allow not only to hold theoretical meetings, but also to set up a pilot workshop for research and training activities, available to all member companies.
As far as lobbying activities are concerned, the presidium in Brussels remains strong and active through EGEA, with a large number of tables open within the EU: the new regulations on periodic technical inspections, where AICA requests annual checks for older vehicles, a project on emission tests to be carried out exclusively through on-board instruments, which the Association strongly opposes, and a project for establishing a European system for the exchange of technical data allowing to keep pace with product innovations. At a national level, there is also a need to restore a list of basic tools and equipment for car repairers, a list that was paradoxically repealed, while the obligation to have such tools and equipment remains in force.
The Autopromotec show also deserves a mention, "We are the only automotive trade fair of with growing figures, even though we have not sold half of our spaces to low cost countries, like so many others have done: we are still a highly specialised fair. Competitiveness and specialization are our winning formula. So far our philosophy has been to bring foreign buyers to Bologna, in the future we will probably have to go even further, looking for partnerships with other international trade fairs. In any case, our show works so well that Bologna Fiere has requested our support for the Motorshow exhibition, with a view to bringing the show back to Bologna."
Analysis of the associative budgets
The treasurer Onelio Picchioni has shown in his report the final balance that sees the associative budgets in equilibrium and this makes it possible to face the demanding challenges of the future with serenity.
European Commission: new challenges and opportunities with the "Roadworthiness Package"
The Treasurer ‘s report was then followed by a speech by engineer Massimo Brunamonti, Vice President of EGEA, to illustrate the intense lobbying activities carried out in 2013 at a national level and especially within the EU. At EU level, as Brunamonti explains, "we are involved with the Roadworthiness Package, which started in July 2012 and was in the pipeline all through 2013, the proposal for a directive included 3 issues: new periodic technical inspections, new regulations on roadside assistance and a proposal for harmonized management of technical data at EU level. This programme includes many issues of direct interest to us, which may impact on our business".
We are talking about vehicle categories that are subject to inspections (which in Italy, unlike in many other countries, are mandatory for two-wheeled vehicles ), access to technical data of (that testing authorities in many countries are reluctant to supply to garage equipment manufacturers), we are talking about electronic inspection certificates, new tests keeping pace with the technical development of vehicles, tests on tyres; qualification is another issue, as well as responsibility and independent testing authorities, and inspectorial powers of national authorities over test performers.
Then there is the important topic of OBD tests, on which "we are putting a lot of pressure so that they are considered complementary and not a replacement, because we think exhaust emission tests must be updated, not replaced". The complex decision-making process on the Roadworthiness Package has not yet reached a conclusion, but in any case, it will be an open platform for future developments and improvements."Another topic we have been deeply involved with this year - continued Brunamonti - is the proposal for a collective EGEA mark, needed by some manufacturers who need to define specific product standards". 2013 was also the year of new management for the EGEA: "we need to work harder for each project, so it was suggested we work for project financing, separating institutional functions from specific ones; we have a lot of specific projects, which may affect only some of us, not all of the associative body, and then it was decided to identify the projects that will be funded through the national association for those who believe they can make a profit. It is a new approach that has already brought positive results".
At a national level, there is the important working group at the Department of Transport, which was established at the end of 2012, needing to adapt the whole body of regulatory revisions to the current situation. The ruling decree for tests is Circular No.88/1995, which is now obsolete. "Very demanding work, in which our contribution is essential."
Autopromotec: the results in 2013 and prospects for promotion
Emanuele Vicentini, Brand Manager of Autopromotec, showed the results of the latest edition of the fair and the projects for the promotion of Autopromotec 2015. "In the last edition we have reached a new record of 1,514 exhibitors , and also of international exhibitors who now represent almost 40% - made up of direct selling companies and brands represented by Italian companies, with a growth of 7.5 %.
The trend of foreign visitors has been growing in the last 10 years, apart from a stationary result in 2009, while the trend of Italian visitors reflects the number of industry operators in Italy, which sees a reduction in the number of repairers and the centralization of operators." Promotional activities have involved purchasing advertising and exchanges with industry magazines, with 84 advertising pages and banners purchased in Italy, 136 abroad, and with the presence of 495 journalists, an important and significant number, since all press articles have given a positive feedback on the show.
Road shows were organized in 10 foreign countries, as well as over than 50 meetings with trade associations, media and companies. "We then launched a special initiative with newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, with 4 pages reserved to the show, which allowed us to give high visibility to our business, we told them about the features of the exhibition, speaking about equipment and international markets, placing strong emphasis on the importance of this sector. The initiative - explained Vicentini - also involved Radio 24, the radio station of the Confindustria, with the Focus Economia which was broadcast live from the trade fair telling the importance of the only automotive exhibition in Italy. Good planning skills are involved in meeting arrangements, because participants must be given the opportunity to meet and interact with each other, so we also came up with Autopromotec Edu, a meeting arena which in time could also acquire a life of its own, thanks to the opportunities provided by the new organizer’s headquarters. Meeting attendance rose from 1,000 attendants (2011) to 1,400, and the actual number of meetings was almost double to 26. Thanks to the big interest aroused, this kind of initiative will be also organized by other foreign shows, so we can say we were the first to launch it.”
Autopromotec Industrial Vehicle Service also met with enormous success, giving high visibility to the participating exhibitors (164 companies) during the two conferences included in Autopromotec Edu and an international symposium on commercial and heavy vehicle service; this is yet another topic which, in time, was added to the Autopromotec feature list with growing success.We got positive feedback from the web portal created specifically to organize B2B meetings, funded by the European Commission: more than 560 meetings were arranged, of which the developments and final results are available. As far as international promotion activities go, the collaboration with Unioncamere Emilia-Romagna was very successful, which is part of an international network called Enterprise Europe Network, which made it possible to meet professional buyers and invite them to our show and get them involved in the B2B meeting programme, all free of charge. "Also for the future, this network will give us the chance to get in contact with the individual chambers of commerce of non-European countries ranging from Mexico to Malaysia, or better still, Unioncamere is asking us to make proposals: our goal is then to identify the markets interested in creating initiatives and for which to aggregate 4-5 or companies to work on, define the type of mission, at that point they can come up with simple, clear and specific projects that we can take into the identified country with interesting results. Moreover, in order to try to have more delegates and to exploit the resources that investment promotion agencies will have in store for the Expo Milano 2015, we will have to work in closer cooperation with the investment promotion agencies to attract more international visitors and buyers to our show, with their sponsorship, trying to get them involved in the activities of Expo Milano 2015.
Furthermore, Autopromotec 2015 will take place from May 20 to 24, that is within the semester of the Expo, so this is something we can take advantage of - specifically, trying to have more delegations, financed not by us, but from their home countries. Even an international event would be an important opportunity, we should start a negotiation with potential foreign partners, we know that some are very receptive towards us. In addition to this, in 2014 we will have new headquarters, which will give us greater potential, we will be able to keep up business relationships with our exhibitors and provide more services for associations, to increase information and communication activities, and above all to expand the entire Edu sector with conferences of various kinds, from regulations to technical meetings, from lobbying to internationalisation, marketing, etc. The Autopromotec web site has already been revamped into an increasingly organized web portal, on which operators’ activities and business relationships will be focused. " Vicentini concluded reminding that also in the future Autopromotec will be required to maintain the objectives already outlined in the past: to be an international crossroads, a training academy, a place where you can learn the trends of the future, and a platform for all the automotive aftermarket.
From the Stability Law- important news for operators who rely on leasing
Carlo Mescieri, managing director of Fraer Leasing, introduced his report by presenting his company, promoted 28 years ago by Confartigianato Emilia-Romagna , and whose shareholders are a major international bank, French Société Générale, Confartigianato Emilia-Romagna , and a dozen banks in Emilia-Romagna, Marche and Veneto. Together with the related companies SG Leasing and SG Factoring, Fraer deals with leasing, financing business fixed investment, factoring, and advancing credits. After having emphasized the international character of the company, but also its strong Italian roots and production, craftsmanship in particular, Mescieri showed the greater benefits of leasing derived from the Stability Law which is being discussed in Parliament.
The law, in fact, allows further tax benefits for leasing due to accelerated depreciation of investments if they are financed with leasing; today, a machine with a rate of depreciation of 12.5 % can be amortized over 8 years, 96 months, for the person who invests directly, and in 64 months for the person investing with lease options. From January 1, 2014 lease tax deductibility will be reduced from 64 months to 48 months: this way, since the costs are paid over a period of time shorter than the investment in the machine, the company will have to pay a lower annual income tax rate, much to the benefit of its financial situation. Regarding real estate investments related to company activities, those who buy a warehouse directly, given a depreciation tax rate of 3% , depreciate the investment in 33 years and a few months (i.e. , in 34 tax terms). Until 31 December 2013 financial lease costs for immovable property are deductible over a period of 18 years; as from January 1, 2014 the period shrinks to 12 years (equal to almost a third of the depreciation period). The same logic applied to the investment in a machine has significant tax benefits in the form of tax savings.The same stability law has finally eliminated the double taxation on the leasing of means of transport (the so-called EPT tax for vehicle registration).
From January 1, 2014, this tax will be paid only once by the company (and not twice as in the past). Also relevant here are tax savings, particularly in the case of trucks. The goal of the stability law is to foster fixed capital investment and therefore economic recovery thanks to lease-friendly tax measures. There are many opportunities available, and in this respect Mescieri has confirmed his willingness to meet the Association to evaluate possible lease and factoring agreements for all interested member companies