Just when you thought it had all been done before, the Bologna bi-annual trade show took its turn to ramp-up the aftermarket business. With over 113 000 visitors, which was an astounding, 10% up on the previous fair in Italy, the trade show seemed to have something for everyone.

With improved training sessions, the five-day show featured up to 93 special meetings and discussions for various sectors of the trade. Along with this came a monster input of traffic from the digital world of car repair. Close to 200 000 unique visitors on social media platforms, said the organisers made it all particularly lively, Renso Servadei CEO, was really encouraged.  The success of the event for exhibitors was also placed on a high note with proof positive that the repair sector is still showing strong growth. “We were particularly impressed at the number of international trade visitors which also racked up substantial growth levels,” says Emanuelle Vincente, who is the brand manager for Autopromotec.

From exhibitor level many new innovations were to be seen with the launch of the new 360° concept from Spanesi and other innovations on jig additions from Celette on view. The crowded visitor alley ways at show time promised much new thinking on polishing systems. New colour retrieval methods were on show from Genroc, Kapci, Sprint and Mipa who also had an impressive show response. As usual the major players in refinish don’t seem to be eager to engage with clients at trade fairs which is to say the least bit unusual. Along with the new methods came many new ultrafine abrasive systems which will work faster with less fuss and a better overall finish with the latest 2K refinish systems.

Automotive glass will become the next big battlefield as motor makers are now embarking on specialised heads up display packages which will eventually make it extremely difficult for aftermarket companies from China to keep up with these developments going forward.

With repair professionals catered for in every area of transportation right from bus and truck, diagnostics and the pursuit of ever lower running costs, no area of the business was left untouched.

Global view

When the details of last year’s trends emerged at the press conference which was held by the organisers, a touch of reality emerged with many traditional markets running very static growth levels and China showing a colossal close to 347% increase in car sales, while the UK can only muster a 6% increase.

Perhaps that’s why the focus from just about all concerned is with the huge Chinese increases away from the G5 nations. But in general terms the aftermarket can feel relieved that car parc levels are growing with older vehicles remaining active on the road for much longer life spans across the world, and here China has the youngest car parc of the nations in the global survey.

On the subject of dealer visits and customer activity it was interesting to note that Argentina, Brazil and Mexico post significantly more visits to their dealers after purchasing new vehicles and when service contracts expire. As for South Africa, the BRICS are doing okay in the motoring world.

Diesel motors also remain a big part of new vehicle sales in Europe, but one thing that did emerge from this industry review, is that thankfully emerging markets make much more use of their vehicles with increased mileage over their European counterparts. It is probably because of poor levels of public transport.  The do-it-yourself trend is not doing well as cars become more complex to repair.

All in all, all that Autopromotec revealed was that the body shop business is at very high levels of competitiveness and the future technological tsunami that is heading our way with new vehicles shows no sign of slowing down.