Wendy Williamson - IAAF

The Survival of the Automotive Aftermarket

With the growing prominence of electric and autonomous vehicles in the public eye, the future of the aftermarket is on everyone’s mind this year. Wendy Williamson, Chief Executive of the Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF), weighs in on the impact on the industry.

Wendy Williamson provided her outlook on the future of the automotive aftermarket in a keynote speech at Automechanika Birmingham 2018. During the event, she covered a range of topics from new legislation, to the effect of lifestyle changes on the industry.

LEADING THE LEGISLATION

Williamson’s recommendation for legislation addressing access to vehicle data to prevent a ‘privileged and controlling interest’ addresses the evident threat that exclusive technology places to the aftermarket. It was clear from other speakers at the event that the concept of a digitalised garage that will develop with autonomous cars is not to be taken lightly.

There is not only the risk to the owner’s data security with Professor Jim Saker comparing connected cars to handing over a laptop; the risk to the independent garages and general aftermarket also needs to be considered. Given the chance, there is no doubt that the manufacturers would withhold information and technology, forcing the consumer to be reliant upon them for repairs.

As Williamson states; ‘The big challenge with autonomous vehicles will be access to information to repair these vehicles’.

ELECTRIFYING THE INDUSTRY

Regarding environmental factors and the push towards hybrid and electric vehicles, Williamson stated that a coordinated response is required across all industries – a valid point considering that approximately 20% of total EU greenhouse gas emissions are caused by vehicles (as of 2015 https://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/indicators/transport-emissions-of-greenhouse-gases/transport-emissions-of-greenhouse-gases-10), suggesting the larger problem lies elsewhere.

Williamson concluded her speech by contemplating the effect of lifestyle changes on the future of the industry. She speculated that renting cars for the day, or even for an hour, would be favoured by younger generations; a concept which correlates with GM’s model of ‘sell lifts, not cars’.

FIGHTING FOR YOUR RIGHTS

The IAAF’s concern that consumers are not offered a level playing field has lead to their prominence in the ‘Your Car Your Choice’ campaign, as well as success in pushing key amendments in the new Type Approval legislation. ‘Your Car Your Choice’ is an initiative supporting the rights of the consumer to choose where their vehicle is repaired or maintained, without invalidating the vehicle warranty. Also known as ‘Right 2 Choose’, this scheme is something everyone in the aftermarket can get behind at http://yourcaryourchoice.co.uk/support-the-campaign/, and something that we at FPS are proud to support.

The tone of Williamson’s speech echoed that of many others at Automechanika – the future is full of exciting advancements in technology, but the effect of these is undetermined. As an industry, it’s difficult to anticipate the changes to make, especially if – as Jim Saker states – the future of the motor industry is not in our own hands. Meanwhile, FPS will be watching developments closely to prepare for whatever the future may bring.

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