|MACS Honors New Product Showcase Winners|
LANSDALE, Pa. – The 2013 MACS Training Event and Trade Show featured a new product showcase with 24 new mobile A/C and engine cooling products on display. A panel of the motor press attending the show judged the following products as standouts in three categories:
Most innovative new product: AGS Swedge LOKR Kit
The SWEDGE-LOKR Tool and SWEDGE-LOK System is the key to permanent, fast and economical A/C repairs. The SWEDGE-LOKR Tool is designed to fit into the compact spaces where A/C lines are found, allowingmost repairs to be completed right on the vehicle. The SWEDGE-LOK repair fittings consist of tube-to-tube unions, tube-to-hose unions and block-offs. The specialized alloy and design of these fittings makes for corrosion-proof and leak-proof repairs that are pressure-rated and tested up to 1,000 PSI.
Best use of technology in a new product: Santech No. MT3710 – Dual Channel Thermometer Kit
This is a J/K-type digital thermometer that will display two separate probe readings at the same time on one screen. The unit will also perform a differential reading of the two probes. The thermometercomes with a protective rubber cover. The probes are direct contact for accurate readings.
Most service-friendly new product: Beck/Arnley European Coolants
Beck/Arnley's new lineup of Genuine OE Quality European Fluids includes Euro Concentrate, Euro SF+ and Euro ++. They are bottled in Europe and formulated specifically for Audi, BMW, Mini, Land Rover, Volkswagen and Volvo models. The bottle includes a collapsible spout for ease of pouring.
|AAPEX 2012 Opens And Closes On A High Note|
ORLAND PARK, Ill. – Show organizers for theAutomotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) have reported that the 2012 event ended on a high note, with an increase in the number of exhibitors and exhibits at this year's event. AAPEX was held Oct. 30 through Nov. 1, at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas.
The 20th anniversary event opened with a performance by the Foothill High School Drum Line of Henderson, Nev. The performance was followed by an "Orange Crush" of members of the Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA) wearing bright orange shirts with the AWDA logo, as well as the logo of the program group or distributor organization to which they belong.
The show floor featured 660 first-time exhibitors, and a total of 2,309 exhibitors, up from 2,292 in 2011. Exhibitors occupied 5,054 booths, compared to 4,984 last year. The number of verified buyers at Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week (AAIW), which includes AAPEX and the SEMA Show, reached 60,000, up slightly from 59,700 the previous year. Pre-registered buyer numbers exceeded 64,000, down 2.7 percent over 2011. International buyers traveled from more than 130 countries to attend Industry Week.
In addition, the AAPEX Learning Forum offered an extra day of education in 2012 to better accommodate attendees’ schedules. A total of 32 sessions were presented on a range of topics including sales, marketing, branding, warehouse distributor management, industry trends, employee productivity, technology and service readiness. Attendees gave high marks to sessions and speakers, specifically the content of the sessions and being able to apply what they learned when they returned to their businesses.
Other highlights of AAPEX 2012 include the addition of six eateries on the show floor, styled to look like classic streetside food trucks, a new 8,000 square-foot Remanufacturing Section, which sold out of exhibit space, and the popular renamed Product Showcase, in which 4,600 votes were cast by pre-registered buyers to determine the winning entries. The number of votes cast in 2012 represents an increase of approximately 28 percent over 2011 voting numbers.
The 2013 AAPEX will take place Tuesday, Nov. 5 through Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas.
|James Bond's wild rides: A 50-year retrospective|
As the latest installment in the James Bond spy series gets ready to celebrate its 50th anniversary with today’s nationwide opening of the latest film, “Skyfall,” a look back reveals that some things never change.
When 007 is on the prowl, you know there’ll be a worthy villain, some trick gadgets, plenty of babes, booze and, of course, an assortment of hot cars.
Actually, over the last century, Bond, James Bond, has found himself behind the wheel of a fire engine, a moon buggy, a Russian tank and has even taken the stick of a Bede BD-5 microjet. But it’s the cars that catch our eye, including some of the most lavish and exotic you can imagine, like a Lotus Esprit and a Rolls-Royce Phantom.
He’s also been stuck in less luxurious rides, over the decades. In fact, the very first car we saw 007 drive in a movie was a Chevrolet Bel Air convertible – in the venerable franchise’s original film, “Dr. No.” He’s had to settle for a Ford Galaxie 500 and even an AMC Hornet X – which performed a notorious bridge jump in 1974’s “The Man with the Golden Gun.”
But the brand most often associated with the British spy is, appropriately enough, "veddy, veddy" British itself, an Aston Martin. The automaker makes its first appearance in Sean Connery’s third film, “Goldfinger,” when he leads chase in a classic DB5. In fact, that car, with the license plate BMT 216A, is the rare character to make a repeat performance, showing up in six films including – spoiler alert – the latest, “Skyfall.”
Curiously, that wasn't what Ian Fleming had in mind. The former secret agent’s series of thrillers found the hero a fan of another U.K. marque, the even more exclusive Bentley. It was described in the original 1953 novel as Bond’s “only personal hobby,” Fleming suggesting the spy liked to drive it “hard and well and with an almost sensual pleasure.”
Fleming described several different Bentleys in the books, among them, a supercharged 4-1/2 litre “blower” Bentley, of which just 55 were made. It was readily recognizable due to the gun metal supercharger that stuck out of its nose. That car made its appearance in the original book, "Casino Royale" but was ultimately destroyed in the third book, “Moonraker.”
And for those who think that the only damage a journalist can achieve is with a pointed review, the rare Bentley was crushed beneath some giant rolls of newsprint.
Fleming did put Bond in an Aston, an earlier DB III, in the book version of Goldfinger. He pulled it out of the MI6 pool, however, to better look the part of a well-heeled gentleman when going to play golf with the villain. As was more common than not, this shows just how details were changed when Fleming's books were put to film.
The first Sean Connery films were shot on a budget. Few expected the 007 films to be nearly so successful – never mind continuing to run for 50 years and counting. So, it’s probably no surprise the filmmakers grabbed anything they could get their hands on. But as it became clear that Commander Bond had transcended the silver screen to become a legend of popular culture, automakers suddenly started knocking on the door of producer Cubby Broccoli.
Film industry legend has it that Aston wound up besting its British rival because it was willing to pay for a placement in the Bond movies. Bentley, on the other hand, somehow had the conception that super spies, like mere mortals, weren’t about to get a free ride.
For the 1965 “Goldfinger,” Ford provided a Lincoln Continental convertible to be crushed in a compactor in order to have the director work in a scene with the then brand new Mustang. The pony car was wrecked, incidentally, when Bond used the wheel-cutting blades on his Aston.
As the series’ success grew, the placement deals grew far more lavish – and expensive – sometimes running into the millions of dollars after a company like Ford was pressed to not only provide cars but pay for the privilege. In the 1990s, Ford saw the Bond films as a great way to promote its assortment of luxury brands, many of them British -- including Jaguar, Land Rover and, of course, Aston Martin. But it was required, among other things, to heavily promote the films in its own advertising.
“The Broccolis were good to work with,” recalls Ford marketing executive Samantha Hoyt, who handled the negotiations with the producers. But, she quickly adds, “They were tough negotiators (who) really believed in the value of their franchise. They expect a lot from their partners, but the films deliver. Looking back, it was worth the investment and it gave us six months of global coverage as the film launched around the world.”
Perhaps, no wonder that Aston briefly found itself vanquished when the German maker, BMW suddenly decided to bid for the Bond franchise. That brand made its debut in 1995’s “Goldeneye,” and the entire placement deal seemed to have hinged around using the movie to give the world its first look at the all-new BMW Z3 roadster. Ironically, it only appeared briefly, and near the end, when 007 squeezes in a short, slow drive before handing the car over to American agent Jack Wade.
BMW continued to be the go-to brand for several more films, with models including the 750iL and the Z8 helping Bond give chase.
Of course, simply having a fast and sexy car isn’t always enough for a globe-trotting superspy. And that’s where Q comes in. The eccentric quartermaster – long the role of actor Desmond Llewelyn -- has always been a master of technology. The original Aston Martin DB5 incorporated such useful “modifications,” in his words, as a car phone and pre-GPS navigation and tracking capabilities.
In fact, its gadgetry changed for each film, at various times including pop-out gun barrels, a bullet-proof shield, retractable, tire-slashing blades, rocket launchers, an oil slick generator, a revolving license plate, and the famous ejection seat.
In its early form, the DB5 was custom-outiftted by John Stears, a Hollywood special effects legend with two Oscars to his credit, one for “Thunderball,” the other for “Star Wars.”
(And as an aside, Ohio car collector Harry Yeaggy paid a hefty $4.6 million to purchase the original Aston at an October 2010 RM Auction. That was less than many had expected it to go for. But, then again, it had previously spent 41 years in the collection of Philadelphia radio broadcaster Jerry Lee – who snapped it up for a mere $12,000 in 1969 after MGM finished using it for a promotional tour.)
As spectacular as all those modifications might seem, each film seemed desperate to outdo the previous one. By the time the series was set for a reboot, with Pierce Brosnan’s final – and poorly reviewed – “Die Another Day,” Q had come up with a car that could ski, one that turned into a submarine and another that could become invisible.
And, in an homage to the early films, a new Aston Martin V12 Vanquish was also outfitted with an ejection seat – but here it served to help Brosnan’s Bond flip the car back over after it landed on its roof.
A list of all the various cars 007 has driven over the years would fill many more pages and includes a handful of Jeeps, a Sunbeam Alpine, at least one Mercedes-Benz and an assortment of Jaguars and Land Rovers, especially since Daniel Craig’s Bond reboot.
But, (Spoiler alert) as “Skyfall ,” makes it clear, it’s the Aston Martin DB5 that seems most closely associated with 007. Will the DB5 show up in another one of the spy’s adventures? We’ve learned never to rule things out. James Bond will prove again an ability to return from the grave in this newest feature. But it could be just a little bit more difficult for the long-running Aston. We’ll leave it for you to find out why.
Oh, and for the truly dedicated Bond-ophiles, if “Skyfall” just whets your appetite, consider a visit to the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, England, a couple hours out of London. Through Jan. 6, 2013 they’ll have 50 of the best-known Bond cars on display.
|Technology, Speed, Price All Changing the Face of the Aftermarket for Suppliers|
MEMA Industry News Editor's Note: Bill Long, AASA president and COO, presented key discussion points in the association’s annual “Aftermarket Outlook” at the AASA Executive Breakfast at AAPEX on Oct. 30. To view the full presentation, click here.
LAS VEGAS -- Suppliers face multiple challenges in today’s aftermarket and must stay on top of changing trends to remain relevant and successful in an ever-evolving market.
Kevin Freeland, COO of Advance Auto Parts, gave a synopsis of the biggest changes the aftermarket has seen and, in essence, a step-by-step guide of what to consider in order to remain profitable.
Both Advance and other players in the aftermarket have an enhanced ability to import directly from low-cost countries. But it is not all about price. People putting more and more focus on quality as well, Freeland says.
Foreign car growth is also changing our industry. Coverage is becoming very broad and includes many foreign manufacturers. This is also helping to boost business for import specialists.
Pricing has become more sophisticated. Companies are using more advanced analytical techniques to price products. There is also a great deal of monitoring of competitive pricing.
The Internet has given a transparency to pricing for DIYers. On the commercial side, price has risen to the No. 3 consideration when looking to make a purchase, but there is also a great importance put on relationships.
“The sense of urgency in our products is higher than I’ve ever seen. The industry supply chain must get faster,” Freeland says. Advance has expanded parts offerings in stores and invested in technology to make sure each store has the best possible product mix to meet demand.
O’Reilly Auto Parts has built a reputation on daily part replenishments in stores, while Advance and many other stores provided weekly replenishments, Freeland says. But based on consumer response, Advance opened its first daily replenishment center, and that is the direction the company is going to follow going forward.
“This is our response to the customer who is telling us speed is very important,” Freeland says.
The industry is also becoming more electronic, and in no place is this more evident that with catalogs. Customers want information faster and electronically, and studies show that the more information customers can access about a suppliers’ products online, the better the chance of securing a sale.
And nearly 55 percent of auto parts sales begin with online research. “This has a profound impact on our industry and on you,” Freeland says. Customers are looking for part availability, what part they need and where it is available; but only a small portion of these parts are then purchased online.
Bob McKenna, president and CEO of MEMA, named William Glasgow Sr., the recipient of the MEMA Triangle Award. “For more than 20 years, Bill has directed his family-owned and operated trade show management firm. If you had to pick one thing, it would be Bill’s hard work and dedication that has made AAPEX what it is today,” McKenna says.
“I think my two sons said it best when they said, ‘Dad, we think you’ve had a good run.’ And I have. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I have met some very wonderful people, and I will miss each and every one of you,” Glasgow says. “AAPEX has been a great show for the industry and will continue to be so because of your support. I can’t stress enough how important it is to give your feedback and help you associations keep AAPEX at the top of the pile.
McKenna also reiterated two management changes -- Steve Handschuh, AASA president, will transition to MEMA executive vice president and chief operating officer, and Bill Long has been named AASA chief operating officer, both effective Nov. 1.
|Chrysler 300 Tops GM, Ford Large Sedans, Consumer Reports Says|
Chrysler 300 Tops GM, Ford Large Sedans, Consumer Reports Says
DETROIT -- Chrysler Group LLC boosted its rating in Consumer Reports' testing of large sedans as its 300 topped offerings by General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co.
The Chrysler 300 scored an 83, behind only Hyundai Motor Co.'s Genesis at 92, the magazine and product-testing group said in an e-mailed statement.
Among other new models in the segment featured in Consumer Reports' October issue, Hyundai's Azera recorded a score of 81, followed by 78 for GM's Buick LaCrosse and 64 for Ford's Taurus. The 300 was one of the 16 new or refreshed models that CEO Sergio Marchionne introduced in the 19 months after Chrysler emerged from a U.S.-backed bankruptcy under Fiat S.p.A.'s control.
The 300 follows improved results in Consumer Reports testing for Chrysler models including the 200 sedan and Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango sport-utility vehicles.
"The 2011 redesign of the 300 put Chrysler's flagship back on the map in the large-sedan category," David Champion, senior director of the Consumer Reports Automotive Test Center, said in the statement.
This year's findings were the first to include testing of the 300 with a six-cylinder engine and eight-speed automatic transmission, which improved the model's showing in fuel-economy tests, the magazine said. The 300 achieved 22 miles per gallon, according to the statement. U.S. sales of the 300 more than doubled to 44,200 this year through July.
The 300 didn't receive the publication's "Recommended" status because Consumer Reports doesn't have enough survey data related to consumer reliability, according to the statement. Carmakers seek favorable evaluations from the magazine as its reviews are considered the most objective because of policies of accepting no advertising and buying every vehicle it tests.
Hyundai's Azera, which started selling early this year, has improved handling while still trailing competitors because of its "stiff, unrefined ride," Consumer Reports said.
GM's Buick LaCrosse with eAssist scored lower than rivals because of "a narrow cockpit, a busy dashboard, obscured sight lines and trunk storage that's compromised" by its hybrid battery system, according to the statement.
The drivetrain helped the LaCrosse achieve 26 mpg in Consumer Reports testing, the best in the large-sedan category.
Ford's Taurus is "quiet and rides smoothly," according to the statement. The sedan lost points for its "cramped" interior with limited visibility and because of the "cumbersome" MyFordTouch control system, Consumer Reports said.
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