by Ian Wagstaff
Speaking at the annual conference of the UK’s IAAF (Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation), chief executive Wendy Williamson issued a stark warning. Under the theme of “survive and thrive,” she spoke about the challenges present to the independent aftermarket by the new “cloud”-based technology that is being introduced by the vehicle manufacturers.
“The threats from the VMs have now grown to unprecedented levels,” she warned. “We are facing a potential lockout from all the VMs. I genuinely believe that this is a greater threat than we faced 10 years ago with the block exemption regulations (European Union rules that helped to protect the VMs as suppliers to the aftermarket). Technology seems to be outpacing regulations.”
Williamson gave as an example the case of Volvo which has depleted functionality from the 16-pin socket apart from emissions data. “The next step,” she continued, “is that garages will have to have pre-verified diagnostic tools and will have to pay the VMs on a case-by-case basis to access the information needed.”
Land Rover celebrated 68 years of history in January as the last of the current Defenders was produced at its Solihull, UK production facility. To mark the occasion, the company invited more than 700 current and former Solihull employees involved in the production of Series Land Rover and Defender vehicles to see and drive some of the most important vehicles from its history.
At the same time, Land Rover announced a new Heritage Restoration Programme, which will be based on the site of the existing Solihull production line. A team of experts, including some long serving Defender employees, will oversee the restoration of a number of Series Land Rovers sourced from across the globe.
More than two million Series Land Rovers and Defenders have been built in Solihull since 1948. What began as simply a line drawing in the sand has gone on to become one of the world’s most iconic 4x4s, earning the accolade of being the most versatile vehicle on the planet, capable of taking owners to the places other vehicles couldn’t reach. In 2015, a unique milestone Defender — the “Defender 2,000,000” sold for a record £400,000 (US$580,000).
From Sporstcar to SUV
The increase in SUV popularity is going to lead to the entry into this market by a brand not known for such vehicles and best thought of as one of the great sportscar marques of the past. The identity of MG is much changed since it fell into Chinese ownership, so perhaps it is not surprising that is about add an SUV to its lineup.
The MG GS, as it will be known, will be launched in June. Little has been said about the vehicle, which has been designed in the UK, although some design sketches have been made available.
A Special F-type
The new Jaguar F-type SVR is due to make its global debut at the Geneva Motor Show, before going on sale in the summer. The car is the first series production Jaguar to be developed by JLR’s Special Vehicle Operations as well as, it is said, the first F-type to exploit the two-seat aluminum sports car’s full potential while retaining its day-to-day usability. A top speed of 200mph has also claimed.
“We even made a Convertible version so that enthusiasts can revel in the sound from the new titanium exhaust system,” said John Edwards the Managing Director of Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations.
U.K.-based journalist Ian Wagstaff has been covering the aftermarket for over 30 years and has contributed International Dateline for the last 29 of these. He is also an award-winning writer of books on motorsport.