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IAAF chief delivers keynote speech addressing digital era challenges


Wendy Williamson, chief executive of the Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) provided an extensive insight into the challenges faced by the aftermarket in the digital era at the Aftermarket Theatre, Automechanika Birmingham 2019.

In her speech, which covered the opportunities, technology and legislation available to support a competitive, free to access automotive industry in the digital age, Williamson also looked at how changes in other areas of the sector are influencing technology, including intelligent mobility.

The speech revisited Type Approval, a continuing theme of IAAF’s lobbying activities for the past four years, vital for the IAM to ensure continued access to vehicles both now and in the future.  She informed the assembly that the VMs “are trying to convince the EU that Extended Vehicle is the fairest, most secure and easiest way to access the vehicle in years to come”, and with the IAAF disagreeing, she stated that “our long-term goal is to continue to fight for the standard interoperable platform.”

She also stressed that the recent ‘Proof of Concept’ exercise aims to demonstrate why the IAM needs direct real-time access to time-critical in-vehicle data and resources to provide a base for future EU legislation”, citing that “these principles are now underpinned as our key requirements in the future as we must not let technology become an excuse for unfair and distorted competition.”

There was also an update on IAAF’s prominent ‘Your Car, Your Choice’ campaign, which recently launched its awareness day in Chesterfield, where over 100 people attended the event which highlighted the rights that motorists and garages have under the current block exemption legislation. Williamson vowed that IAAF “will continue to promote these messages in order to offer value for money repair and servicing throughout the automotive aftermarket.”

Williamson warned delegates of the new challenges faced by today’s digital era as the industry embraces new technologies, new environmental considerations and lifestyle changes, and how emissions, electric and autonomous vehicles “will have a profound effect on our future”.

She also cautioned that changing lifestyle trends are seeing a change in ownership patterns and the digital era is fundamentally changing how we think about driving, therefore “we must adapt and change to ensure that we don’t get left behind”.

The autonomous vehicle was also discussed, which brings with it a new set of challenges and opportunities delivering a whole new perspective to the industry, and while intelligent mobility was not imminent, terms such as block chains, e-hailing, demand responsive transport and connected cities would eventually become “a common part of our language in the future”.

​In closing, Williamson said: “The automotive sector is facing a profound transformation as a result of changes in the digital era.

“We need to be prepared for changes in digitalisation, technology, automation, connected driving and societal changes. As ever we will need to continue to adapt and find new ways, to ensure that the aftermarket is geared up to supply the parts, whatever they are, tools and equipment required to service and maintain the vehicles of tomorrow.”