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The Willys-Overland Company, which brought America the Jeep, celebrated its golden anniversary. The original design for an all-terrain troop transport vehicle–featuring four-wheel drive, masked fender-mount headlights, and a rifle rack under the dash, was submitted to the U.S. Armed Forces by the American Bantam Car Company in 1939. The Army loved Bantam’s design, but the production contract was ultimately given to Willys-Overland on the basis of its similar design and superior production capabilities. Mass production of the Willys Jeep began after the U.S. declaration of war in 1941. By 1945, 600,000 Jeeps had rolled off the assembly lines and onto battlefields in Asia, Africa, and Europe. The name “Jeep” is supposedly derived from the Army’s request to car manufacturers to develop a “General Purpose” vehicle. “Gee Pee” turned to “Jeep” somewhere along the battle lines.
Ford in a press release to the Detroit News announced they were building a new model, with a revolutionary new 8 cylinder V-shaped engine. The V8 went on display the following month in 14 body types at prices ranging from $460-$650. In the 65 hp engine, two banks of four cylinders each were cast in a single piece with the crankcase, and the cylinders were set at an angle of 90°.
Tuesday 10th February 1885
134 years ago
The first US patent for seat belts was issued to Edward J. Claghorn of New York. Claghorn was granted United States Patent #312,085 for a Safety-Belt for tourists, described in the patent as “designed to be applied to the person, and provided with hooks and other attachments for securing the person to a fixed object.”
9th February 1909
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation was incorporated with Carl G. Fisher as president. The speedway was Fisher’s brainchild and he would see his project through its inauspicious beginnings to its ultimate glorious end. The first race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway took place on August 19, 1909, only a few months after the formation of the corporation. Fisher and his partners had scrambled to get their track together before the race, and their lack of preparation showed. Not only were lives lost on account of the track, but the surface itself was left in shambles. Instead of cutting losses on his investment in the Speedway, Fisher dug in and upped the stakes. He built a brand new track of brick, which was the cheapest and most durable appropriate surface available to him. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway would later be affectionately called “the Brickyard.” Fisher’s track filled a void in the international racing world, as there were almost no private closed courses in Europe capable of handling the speeds of the cars that were being developed there. Open course racing had lost momentum in Europe due to the growing number of fatal accidents. Recognizing the supremacy of European car technology, but preserving the American tradition of oval track racing, Fisher melded the two hemispheres of car racing into one extravagant event, a five-hundred mile race to be held annually. To guarantee the attendance of the European racers, Fisher arranged to offer the largest single prize in the sport. By 1912, the total prize money available at the grueling Indy 500 was $50,000, making the race the highest paying sporting event in the world. However, the Brickyard almost became a scrap yard after World War II, as it was in deplorable condition after four years of disuse. The track’s owner, Eddie Rickenbacher, even considered tearing it down and selling the land. Fortunately, in 1945, Tony Hulman purchased the track for $750,000. Hulman and Wilbur Shaw hastily renovated the track for racing in the next year, and launched a long-term campaign to replace the wooden grandstand with structures of steel and concrete. In May of 1946, the American Automobile Association ran its first postwar Indy 500, preserving an American tradition. Today, the Indy 500 is the largest single day sporting event in the world.
An exciting collaboration between ARA, MIWA and TEPA brings new opportunities to the individual bodies while strengthening the RMI as a whole.
Together, the ARA, MIWA and TEPA are responsible for the bulk of South Africa’s automotive aftermarket, overseeing the vehicle, tyres, parts, servicing and remanufacturing sectors respectively. Greater collaboration between these bodies therefore ensures greater cohesion in the overall motor industry. More than this, the strengthened relationships will result in associational relevance and growth, member integration, cost savings. Members will ultimately benefit from clearer communication, thanks to the introduction of combined member meetings and the digitalization of business affairs.
In fact, digitalization and the use of channels such as podcasts, webinars and social media is a key priority for the RMI going forward, as it is more user friendly and decreases reliance on paper while creating greater efficiencies in terms of communicating between organizations and with members. This is particularly true for disseminating information pertaining to training, education and technical data.
With this in mind, the ARA, MIWA and TEPA are set to standardize their websites, with the introduction of a uniform look and feel creates a streamlined user experience and simplifies navigation. This New Thinking Model will apply to all e-commerce, member interactions, youth development, promotion and member-to-member advertising.
Look out for a collaborative meeting in your region, where the associations will launch their new brands and logos and explain the thinking behind the digitization model.
Durban : 11 February 2020 – Jaipur Palace
Gauteng : 13 February 2020 – Marriot Protea Hotel, OR Tambo, Kempton Park
Port Elizabeth : 18 February 2020 – Old Grey Club, 2 Lennox Street, PE
Cape Town : 25 February 2020 – River Club, Mowbray
Bloemfontein : 27 February 2020 – Protea Hotel Marriott, Bloemfontein
We proudly represent some of the best aftermarket workshops in the country. Our member list grows daily. We warmly welcome Specialised Auto Worx, KZN to our growing base.
MIWA representatives share their thoughts about what 2020 will bring for the industry.
“We’re anticipating that 2020 will bring with it a number of opportunities. Our first priority is to increase our member base, with good quality RMI and MIWA workshops. We’re also looking forward to helping the older workshops come up to standard, so that all workshops are ultimately able to meet the criteria for our five-star grading status. Of course, the year will also bring challenges. We need to educate members about our new logo, so that we can ensure that all workshops adopt the new branding, for instance. As part of this, we need to supply all workshops with our new branding and stickers. We also need to build members’ understanding of what happens in retention visits, and to ensure they’re aware of changes within the RMI. Ongoing communication between members and the association is of the utmost importance. Our local newspapers have a critical role to play here, and we’ll be taking ads in these publications for this purpose. Added to this, we need to address the challenge presented by roadside mechanics that take business from our accredited workshops. We’ve been working with the MIWA KZN Executive Committee to overcome this challenge.”
“I’m excited about our new look and feel, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it influences our marketing space. I’m also looking forward to seeing the results of MIWA’s strategy around branding and marketing, member retention and the collaborative meetings. I’m hoping that we can continue to adopt strategic partners to benefit our members even more. Going forward, it will be great to take part in motoring events and member engagement projects and meetings, and to see how the fourth industrial revolution impacts our industry. I believe that it will bring about change and new ways of doing things that may prove a challenge for some.”
“I think the new year presents a great opportunity to visit and assist our members. I’m particularly looking forward to events like the Moto Mech Show and the Mechanical Show (potentially taking place in May) and other occasions and channels which can be used to grow the MIWA brand in the Eastern and Southern Cape. I’m also excited about involving suppliers in product training at workshops, working more closely with the two regional MIWA committees, and the COS project, which provides a great platform for our industry and its future industry. In terms of challenges, we need to see member attendance grow at MIWA meetings. We had great numbers last year, but it’s time to set the bar even higher. I would also like to encourage suppliers to become more involved and to assist us in our goal of achieving greater membership attendance by, for example, sponsoring prizes. After all, this is an excellent network platform for suppliers, and a chance to have face to face interaction with their target market. All told, I believe that 2020 will be a great year for all our members and the MIWA brand. I would like the MIWA workshops to keep on with product training, apprentice training and maintaining great standards to uplift their businesses, their employees and our industry.”
“On a personal note, I’m excited that I have finally decided to complete the final year of my degree! I’m also excited to work with my new EXCO members. The RMI/MIWA is a growing brand, and there are a lot of businesses that are looking to join us. We need to be aware, however, that not all these business meet our criteria. We need to uphold our standards; so, for example, we may help a business reach accreditation by registering it as a basic member, then work with them to achieve accreditation within three to six months. From a general perspective, factors like load shedding and the state of the South African economy could hit some business hard. They need to prepare by, for example, investing in generators. On the plus side, I foresee a good year with new products and a lot of opportunities for members to take part in informative meetings, activities and social occasions.”
“It’s no secret that the economy is not in a good state. But, with people pushing to save money, new car sales are down, which means that people are trying to extend the life of their existing vehicle. This opens doors for independent mechanical workshops. What’s more, people are taking out more extended warranties, and those warranties require clients to make use of the services of MIWA members. This is great, because people have previously thought that a new vehicle is the way to go. It also poses an exciting challenge for our members, because they have to keep up to date with the evolving technology in cars and the improved oils that are becoming available, which make it possible for vehicles to last longer. This is also why the MIWA grading is so important, as achieving a star rating means that clients can expect a high level of quality, standards and professionalism. This is what sets MIWA graded members a step above the rest. In terms of challenges, independent mechanical workshops are small and medium enterprises and funding is not always available to improve a workshop, invest in the business and make the grade, which would allow owners to benefit from this potentially growing market. This challenge affects MIWA too, because potential members may not have the finances to come on board. We therefore need to take stock: a star rating won’t be achieved overnight. It’ll take time. Overall, I’m looking forward to the Inter-Associational Meeting taking place at the River Club on 25 February, as well as a chance for Western Cape members to introduce themselves to the public at a Cape Town motor show taking place later this year.”
“I’m looking forward to growing MIWA’s membership base this year. One of the areas we will have to address is the dissatisfaction many members have expressed pertaining to unregulated workshops – we need to make sure we have the right people on board, and with time, I am sure we can curb the issue. We also need to be aware of miscommunication between members and their clients. It’s critical to make sure that our members are giving their clients accurate explanations of the work that needs to be done. These matters aside, MIWA is in a stronger position than it has been in previous years.”
Look out for next month’s newsletter, where we introduce a brand new series looking at how our members have tackled key challenges, and what they learnt through the experience – a must-read for those aiming to increase their skills, knowledge and business acumen.
Although the take up of e-cars in South Africa has lagged behind the rest of the world, the country needs to prepare for an exponential increase in this sector.
At present, there are just under 1 000 completely battery operated cars in South Africa, along with 5 000 hybrid cars and slightly less than 500 plug-in hybrid cars. However, with predictions stating that the number of e-cars is set to grow exponentially in the next five years (helping South Africa catch up with the 60 million e-cars expected to be on the roads globally by 2040), the industry need to prepare. Not only do we have insufficient plug-in stations to support the number of e-cars which are anticipated; industry players are also concerned that mechanics are not sufficiently familiar with the components and service processes of e-cars. It is best to address these shortcomings now, before the industry is met with a massive uptake of these vehicles. In the meantime, government is paving the way by drafting relevant policy and working with industry bodies like NAAMSA to provide financial incentives for OEMs and consumers who embrace this technology.
In our next newsletter, we’ll look at what steps members should take to ready themselves for the growing number of e-cars on our roads.