Autoelectro UK Sales Manager, Nick Hood, reveals why the remanufacturer chose the practice back in 1986, how the process has evolved and what the future may look like:
Q. Hi Nick, thanks for talking to PMF about remanufacturing – why did Autoelectro decide to go down this route when it was launched in 1986?
Nick Hood (NH): “Back in the mid 1980s, there were significant factors that supported remanufacturing: firstly, the vehicle parc was more consolidated on common components, in alternator and starter motor terms; for example, what fit a Cortina also fit a Sierra, Granada, Capri, Transit and so on. Back in those days, using a Ford 2.0 Pinto engine, as an example, it could be found in nearly all of Ford’s vehicle offering, which meant that old units were readily available and the economies for remanufacturing were good: low inventory, wide vehicle parc coverage.
“I think another defining factor was that new replacements were more expensive; there were no low-cost options available, so original equipment (OE) was the only real new option and, typically, this was two to three times more expensive than remanufactured products. Of course, the technology was, by today’s standards, reasonably basic so remanufacturing offered the most cost-effective solution.”
Q. Has remanufacturing evolved and to the benefit of the customer?
NH: “For Autoelectro the principles of remanufacturing remain the same: fully dismantle and rebuild the unit with the replacement of all wear components. What has changed significantly is part number proliferation, so there is no longer a Ford Pinto unit being used in six or more Ford vehicles – more like six or more alternator options for a Ford Focus! For the remanufacturer, this has created a far more complex process, coupled with changing technology to support a vehicle that has much greater requirements for starting and charging.
“The benefit to the customer is still fundamentally the same; however, what has changed is the huge influx of new copy product available in the market and the varying qualities of those units.”
Q. Do customers seek Autoelectro because of its remanufacturing pedigree?
NH: “The one thing that hasn’t changed between 1986 and present day is the customer is looking for the best deal and, naturally, price plays a part in that, but you can’t buy luxury for pennies, and people understand that because they can see the difference. It’s not so easy when judging a starter motor!
“Of course, there is a huge irony here, which is that as we are all becoming more environmentally aware, a point highlighted by the desired move by the government to switch to electric vehicles: remanufacturing is environmentally sustainable; however, there is little recognition of this point when it comes to replacement vehicle parts. The government is doing nothing to acknowledge this opportunity.”
Q. On your point about “little recognition”, do you therefore worry about the future of remanufacturing?
NH: “No, quite the opposite, as the increasing complexity and more model specific starter motors and alternators produced creates a situation where, for a growing number of applications, the replacement opportunity is low, and this situation lends itself to remanufacture.
“Also, I believe that the low recognition by the government and the general public is a timing issue. If you are not aware or have not given thought to this, how can you start to change your behaviour? Some European countries already acknowledge the environmental importance of remanufactured or used/reclaimed replacement parts and have legislated to support this practice.”
Q. How has the continued pressures on availability and the new car market influenced remanufacturing?
NH: “There is some associated effect, particularly with component manufacturing and pandemic issues continuing in Southeast Asia. Autoelectro, as a UK-based remanufacturer, has control over its manufacture and product availability, and our sales in 2022 have been very good, coupled with people retaining vehicles for longer. This has resulted in more opportunities to secure that remanufactured starter motor or alternator sale.”