At the 2015 Auto Aftermarket Expo, which was held in Melbourne from 16 to 18 April, Australia’s automotive aftermarket suppliers, manufacturers and exporters demonstrated that this sector of the Australian automotive industry is healthy, growing and can offer a future for those people facing job losses when local passenger vehicle manufacturing ceases in 2017.
Hosted biennially by the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA), the Australian Auto Aftermarket Expo and the co-located Collision Repair Expo showcased 420 exhibitors from 21 countries across more than five acres of floor space. In addition, 30 other organisations staged their own events to link with what is now the largest automotive industry show in the Oceania region.
The Expos, which are trade only events, attracted 10,266 technicians and workshop owners and managers. AAAA Executive Director Stuart Charity said this attendance is up 34% on the 2013 Expos held in Sydney.
“Exhibitors are delighted with this result, particularly in the knowledge that the service and repair segment of the Australian automotive industry is consolidating,” he said.
“The vehicle service and repair industry has approximately 25,000 workshops nationally. It was amazing to have such a high proportion of service and repair business operators visit the Expos.
“This is testimony to the passion and commitment they have for their businesses. These people know they have to stay on top of trends to be successful in a small business.
“Expo visitors were keen to learn how to improve their businesses. They attended to experience the huge range of leading edge technologies available – the products, tools and equipment on display. Much of it is Australian made.
“They also came to attend the comprehensive seminar program covering both technology and business operations topics. The two-day program offered 14 seminars and attracted 2,200 delegates.
“Another benefit enjoyed by Expo visitors is the fantastic networking opportunities offered. These ranged from a simple happy hour to get people together to share ideas, to export seminars targeting Mexico, Thailand and Indonesia, an international reception to welcome buyers from over 70 countries to the Expo, and a special event to launch our 2014 Performance Racing and Tuning Council survey.
“And this whole Expo experience was free for our trade visitors. We sincerely thank the dedicated industry executives who work on the Expo organising committees. They have set a very high bench mark for the 2017 Expos, which will again be held at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre from Thursday 30 March to Saturday 1 April 2017,” said Stuart Charity.
Political Interest in the Aftermarket
The Australian automotive aftermarket enjoyed the attention of political leaders engaged in a range of automotive related issues during the Expos.
The Expo was formally opened by Shadow Minister for Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Industry Senator Kim Carr, who is also a member of the Senate Inquiry into the Australian Automotive Industry.
Senator Carr was joined by fellow Senate Inquiry members Senator Nick Xenophon and Senator Ricky Muir at the ribbon cutting.
Victorian Minister for Industry Lily D’Ambrosio welcomed visitors to the AAAA Innovation Awards Breakfast where winners of newly launched products and services were announced.
Federal Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Jamie Briggs attended the official Expo Media Briefing to introduce government proposals for an update to the Motor Vehicle Standards Act, including regulations relating to personal imports of vehicles.
Federal Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson spoke at the AAAA Excellence Awards Dinner to reinforce his government’s commitment to make vehicle data sharing a reality for the independent aftermarket and announced that he has asked the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission to conduct a review of the capped price service programs being offered by vehicle manufacturers.
Stuart Charity said the engagement of Federal and State politicians responsible for many aspects of the auto aftermarket sector was welcome. “In the past, the aftermarket has been largely ignored as governments focused on the passenger vehicle manufacturers,” he said.
“Aftermarket manufacturing represents 36% of all automotive production in Australia – that is $5.2 billion a year – and exports $800 million worth of Australian developed products each year.
“The AAAA has lobbied hard to demonstrate to State and Federal MPs that when the passenger vehicle manufacturers close their plants, there will still be a vital and growing automotive industry in Australia.
“By visiting the 2015 Expos, these MP’s clearly saw the important role the aftermarket now plays in the lives of Australians and their economy.
“We hope they also now realise that, with appropriate policies in place, aftermarket manufacturers and exporters can play an even larger role in ensuring future growth for our nation’s automotive industry,” said Stuart Charity.