Q&A: Jeremy Rochfort, Autoglass
Jeremy Rochfort, national sales manager at Autoglass, on EU regulation, ADAS calibration and the potential impact of Brexit on the aftermarket.
How has EU regulation shaped the UK aftermarket sector?
EU Commission Regulation 461/2010 has the effect that vehicles do not need to go to one designated manufacturer for aftermarket servicing or maintenance requirements. Maintenance can be undertaken by any dealer or body shop, so it encourages vehicle manufacturers to work with the aftermarket to ensure all parties can deliver a consistent service to their customers.
Crucially, it ensures that an OEM cannot invalidate a warranty if work is conducted outside their network. For a warranty to be invalidated, the manufacturer would have to prove that work must be carried out by their electrical engineering team to protect their IP. This will rarely, if ever, be the case.
In fact, the application of Regulation 461/201 through Britain’s membership of the EU is what many aftermarket business models are predicated on, including our own vehicle glass repair and replacement service, and more pertinently to today’s hot topics, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) calibration.
What does it mean for ADAS calibration, and how does this benefit fleets?
A recent survey of 250 British fleet managers found that over a third of the fleet vehicles already have ADAS-enabled safety features, such as AEB and lane deviation warnings, compared to an estimated 6% of all vehicles currently on the roads.
In recent months, there has been confusion in relation to ADAS calibration due to a misconception that it can only be conducted safely by vehicle manufacturers. That is simply not the case. To remain compliant with the regulation, VMs may not say that after-market ADAS calibration work will invalidate warranties.
For the aftermarket to be able to work safely on vehicles, manufacturers are required to make their know-how available to technology companies like Hella Gutmann, who we work with at Autoglass, using their diagnostic tools and software as part of our calibration solution.
With the growth of ADAS, how will industry behaviour change over the coming five years?
For fleets, Regulation 461/2010 creates choice and convenience. It means that fleets and drivers are not ‘tied’ to one manufacturer or dealership for repairs or maintenance. This allows fleet managers to find more mobile and cost-effective options. This is particularly important in relation to ADAS calibration, due to relatively high adoption rates of ADAS in newer fleet vehicles and the need to keep downtime to a minimum.
The rapid increase in ADAS technology within car fleets, together with the level of fleet manager and driver knowledge – understanding how the technology should be correctly used and maintained – poses real challenges to the fleet industry. The pace of change in 2017, alone, has been significant, and we have needed to be agile. At Autoglass, ADAS calibration is part of our core business, meaning our 2,500-strong team has had rapid, immersive and extensive training.
We expect that fleets will continue to appraise the ADAS features available and start to adopt more functionality to support drivers. Knowledge will also continue to rise. For example, many fleet managers think that calibration is part of a normal service. This is not actually the case; a separate calibration is needed. There has also been much debate as to whether ADAS calibration should form part of the MOT test in future, which emphasises its growing importance and necessity in maintaining standards.
Regardless of whether the U.K.’s departure from the EU impacts the regulation, the same attention needs to be paid to ADAS systems to ensure that a strong focus is placed on calibration and educating drivers about the technology. Reinforcing the importance of education in relation to ADAS will go a long way to achieving this – which is why the vehicle manufacturers and aftermarket need to work closely together.
What difficulties could arise post-Brexit if there are cross-border differences in regulation?
As Regulation 461/2010 is an EU directive, after the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union it will be interesting to see if the regulation is upheld and what long-term implications it has on the aftercare market.
While we fully expect the regulation to be kept, as it has now been adopted as an accepted UK standard for nearly a decade, and has grown an entire automotive-service industry around it. We will follow closely any changes and how they may impact our business and further afield.