With a history going back more than a century, with its batteries factory-fitted by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and trusted by millions of drivers globally, VARTA is the ideal member for the Original Equipment Suppliers Aftermarket Association (OESAA). Since joining the organisation in 2019, the company has embraced the opportunity.

VARTA Marketing Manager, John Rawlins, explained the inspiration for wanting to be part of OESAA: “We’d known OESAA for some time, understood what it meant and what it stood for in terms of championing OE parts, and since VARTA has 70% of market share on start-stop vehicles with an AGM battery, we were well-placed to echo the same message – it was a no-brainer.”

Autoinform Live a ‘huge incentive’

Battery technology has changed significantly over the last decade, specifically with the evolution of AGM and EFB batteries; however, VARTA continues to be concerned that there is still a misunderstanding or lack of knowledge at workshop level about which batteries should be fitted to which vehicle.

In addition, batteries are not always found under the bonnet – John believes 50% approximately – perhaps they’re in hard-to-reach places, such as having to move the passenger seat in some vehicles; therefore, battery replacement can be a time-consuming job.

These factors were another contributing factor to joining OESAA and, specifically, exhibiting at Autoinform Live. VARTA will be joining other members at the GTG Training Academy in Wolverhampton on the 6th and 7th November.

John said: “Our technical trainers love in-person training; they want to help technicians learn for the future but also help with the day-to-day challenges.

“As well as looking at the technology and type of technology specific to a vehicle, help answer questions about which batteries should be fitted to which vehicle, we’ll also be talking about hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs).

“While the internal combustion engine is going to be around for many years to come, hybrid and EV registrations are starting to grow, and we need to be at the side of workshops during a transition period. Nearly all hybrids and EVs, for example, as well as a lithium-ion battery, will also contain a lead-acid battery – a lot of people aren’t aware of that, so we’ll be explaining what that means for testing and replacements.”

Finally, on Autoinform Live, possibly its most important message of all at the event, VARTA will place emphasis on technicians testing every battery that comes into the workshop.

John said: “Technicians will check tread depth, washer levels but won’t check the battery. It’s the heart of the vehicle. We’ll be proving tips and ammunition of how to get the right tone and message across to customers.”

‘Excellent interaction between OESAA members and Garage Forum’

Video conferences have become part of everyday life during the last 12-15 months, so face-to-face engagement among OESAA members has been limited; nevertheless, there has been nothing restrictive about the conversation between VARTA and the OESAA Garage Forum.

John said: “The introduction of the Garage Forum has been invaluable; dialogue between supplier and workshop, asking what workshops want or how we can help them, has given us a useful steer and helped shape the way we deliver information and content.”

Back in July 2020, OESAA distributed more than 3,000 ‘back on track’ packs of point of sale and essentials to workshops, which included a floor sticker, hygiene hook, window sticker, poster and face mask.

These were in response to the MOT exemption ending the following month in August, with influx of vehicles requiring checks, tests and repairs, so workshops were likely to be in high demand – and indeed they were!

VARTA did its bit by asking members of its technical team to deliver a quota. When visiting workshops, they offered packs so customers would understand what was required to ensure a COVID-safe work environment.

John added: “We were delighted and proud to be a part of that campaign. We promoted the initiative, among other OESAA campaigns and stories, on our social channels to show our enthusiasm and commitment to the OESAA cause, which is as strong as it ever has been.”