Savings and ecology move new vehicles
Autopromotec special: spare parts
Drivers choose to save and European legislators push for increasingly green vehicles. Two trends that also affect spare parts dealers
by Massimo Lanari
And because of these two inputs, components manufacturers have the chance to let their imagination run wild: from tyres to lubricants, from batteries to headlights to brake pads and mechanical “items”, in a flourish of proposals that promise to lower costs as much as emissions.
We begin with an irrefutable fact: vehicles in Italy are changing. This is demonstrated not only by the growing number of electric or gas-fuelled hybrids, but also by a real boom in diesel engines, if it is true that 38.1% of all the vehicles on Italian roads run on diesel compared to 61.9% on petrol (Gipa data). In 2005, diesel engines accounted for only 16%, in the ’90s it was less than 10%. A situation that spare parts dealers must also take into account and demonstrates that for end-users – in Italy and throughout Europe – saving is the main priority when it comes to the purchase and upkeep of a vehicle. At the same time, European legislators are pushing for increasingly clean engines and the first new Euro 6 engines for heavy vehicles are a case in point. Two trends that were in evidence at Autopromotec in Bologna, where there was a certain air of optimism about the trend in the sector at the spare parts stands. And because of these two inputs, components manufacturers have the chance to let their imagination run wild: from tyres to lubricants, from batteries to headlights to brake pads and mechanical “items”, in a flourish of proposals that promise to lower cost as much as emissions. Fresh air for spare parts manufacturers and distributors? So it would appear if we look at the data presented at Autopromotec by EAAS, the Automotive Aftermarket Symposium. They showed that the volume of business generated by the sale of automotive spares in Europe was 100 billion euros. Josef Frank, aftermarket director at Clepa, pointed out that “in 2011 the automotive aftermarket sector started off better than expected, mainly because of huge growth in BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China). For the medium- and long-terms trends of the future” – Frank continued – “new legislation on the emission of noxious substances, the market share of electric vehicles and investments in research and development will be very important”. Michel Vilatte, chairman of Figiefa, completed the aftermarket picture in Europe by saying that “the aftermarket has to face many challenges, starting from the ever-increasing number of vehicles and continuing with the increased average age of vehicles, and the arrival of new technologies, like electric cars, will change the face of mobility.”
And in fact, the stands exhibiting spare parts placed considerable emphasis on services, from technical support to operators to the fast delivery of spare parts. “This is because”– Renzo Servadei, CEO of Autopromotec, stated – “no one is able to keep stocks so the speed and efficiency of delivering spare parts is increasing in importance”.
But, spares apart, it is the entire automotive aftermarket world that is in movement: suffice it to think of the imminent application of the MCTCNet2 protocol for road worthiness tests. More control over these tests and the prevention of fake tests will be thanks to the use of a camera that photographs the vehicle registration plate. Or recharging the air conditioning, with the gradual use of the new refrigerating gas r1234yf, also imposed by the European Regulation. Not to mention the imminent labelling of tyres that certifies efficiency and grip on the wet, and the new contribution to the disposal of end-of-life tyres. There was a lot of optimism at Autopromotec, but also a lot of uncertainty. Which end-users have also understood given that Italians still prefer (after the fourth year of vehicle life, according to the Autopromotect Observatory) to go to their own mechanic and tyre specialist rather than the manufacturers’ authorized repair shops. The only fixed point in a world in constant movement.