Affiliated garages and car dealers tend to dominate when it comes to servicing and repairing new cars during the first four years of use. During this time repairs are generally covered by warranty or the conditions of the warranty stipulate that any work must be carried out by an authorized dealer.
However, once the warranty period has ended, there is a huge migration to independent garages where there are significant savings to be made by the car owners. “The used car servicing market is dominated by the independent sector,” says Managing Director Holger Drewing. “We target the market for cars aged between four and nine years old, which owners are still having regularly serviced but at an independent rather than an authorized garage.”
Herth+Buss brand covers two key ranges. Elparts is the range for electrical parts while Jakoparts is the range for wear parts for Japanese and Korean vehicles. In both niches, Herth+Buss offers one of the most comprehensive product ranges in the market.
“As specialists in vehicle electrics, we offer an exhaustive range of products under our Elparts range that will meet any requirement,” says Mr. Drewing. “We have over 7,700 specialist parts in the portfolio, including parts for the latest models.”
The electronic and electrical content of modern vehicles continues to rise as modern technology is increasingly used to monitor a growing number of aspects of the vehicle’s performance. Where once the electrical equipment was limited to the lights and radio, today’s motor vehicles offer an almost fly-by-wire level of complexity with multiple electrical and electronic systems and multiple ways in which these can go wrong.
This is good news for the servicing garages as the ability to identify problems has been taken out of the hands of the hobby mechanic and placed firmly with professionals.
“The only choice left to the consumer is which professional to consult and, as in so many areas, they are voting with their feet (or wheels) for the independent sector and its more favourable prices,” says Mr. Drewing. “Our transparent pricing structure and high quality products make us the first choice for vehicle electrics.”
The Elparts range of electrical components covers signal devices and units, relays, control units, switches, actuators and sensors, voltage transformers and inverters, alternators and starters, wash water pumps and ignition systems. It accompanies this with a comprehensive portfolio of universal parts for installation as well as installation tools.
Finally, it offers a comprehensive range of vehicle lights, one of the most commonly replaced car components and a vital safety feature. “The advice to drive with the lights on even during daylight hours means that lightbulbs need replacing more often but the benefits in accident reduction, particularly in poor visibility, mean that many motorists accept this as a reasonable trade-off,” says Mr. Drewing.
Herth+Buss’s specialization in parts for Japanese and Korean vehicles began in the early 1980s as these competitively priced and well-built cars began to make significant inroads into the European market.
“Honda was one of the pioneers in this market and it was followed by a number of other makes that have since carved out strong positions in Europe,” says Mr. Drewing. “When people buy a new car it is with one eye to future maintenance costs and ease of servicing. By assuring customers that there will be no difficulty obtaining parts in the future, the car makers increase the attractiveness of their models. We were approached by the Japanese manufacturers in the early days for exactly this reason.”
Today, Herth+Buss is a leading supplier of engine, transmission, brake, chassis and electrical parts for over 7,700 different vehicle models from all leading Asian carmakers. The portfolio comprises more than 18,300 spare parts in total. All parts are collected in an online catalogue which makes it easy to find the right part in a matter of seconds.
“Our parts are sold via the independent aftermarket but offer a similarly high level of quality as original parts although at a much more competitive price,” says Mr. Drewing. “We accompany them with comprehensive service and support including individualized stock control, optimized warehousing and support at the POS. Through the use of certified suppliers and digitalized logistics management, we can guarantee parts availability of 95% and extremely rapid deliveries.”
The distribution chain for the independent sector is via wholesalers rather than direct contacts with garages. Nevertheless, Herth+Buss is also heavily involved in marketing activities.
“In-house trade fairs held by the wholesalers are very important and give us the opportunity to meet with the independent garages who order our parts,” says Mr. Drewing. “We have a specially converted VW bus that we use to demonstrate our products. We also take part in the major automotive trade fairs such as the Automechanika.”
What sets Herth+Buss apart at these events is the breadth and depth of its product range. “We have a complete selection of wear parts to an extent that few of our competitors can match,” says Mr. Drewing. “We are also involved in parts development. We buy samples of original new parts and develop a generic alternative. This is vital to maintain competition in the market and keep prices in check for motorists.”
The big trends in industry surround the development of electric cars and self-driving cars. Both bring fundamental changes to the industry. “With electric cars, a lot of engine parts will simply no longer be needed while self-driving cars will monitor mechanical wear parts automatically,” says Mr. Drewing. “Car manufacturers will try to control the supply chain to their advantage and we are already seeing car leasing companies entering into exclusive contracts with garages. These are developments we have to resist. A healthy independent sector is vital to competition. Nevertheless, I am optimistic about the future, particularly in international markets where there is still plenty of potential left to exploit.”