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The volume of activity in the vehicle repair and maintenance sector has returned to growth in recent years.
Several factors contribute to this:
the marginalization of “do it yourself”: faced with the increasing technicality of vehicles, individuals are content with routine maintenance (oil changes, etc.). More sophisticated interventions are less and less accessible to a non-professional.
the strengthening of technical controls from May 20, 2018 (number of control points increased to 124 from 131, which will represent 606 points of failure against 453 today, repair time reduced to 24 hours in the event of a critical defect) stimulates the activity of car repairers.
the entry into force of the new European regulations (regulation CE 1400/2002 then CE 461/2010) on automobile distribution: it leads to a structural change in the sector in favor of quick repair brands and independent garages. Indeed, this new regulation authorizes all professionals in the sector to obtain approval to provide after-sales service, which until now was reserved exclusively for dealers. This approval can be requested from several manufacturers. In addition, the latter are required to distribute their technical data sheets which were previously reserved only for their dealers. However, this new regulation encourages brands to intensify the network of the territory, thus increasing the concentration of the sector at the expense of the independents.
However, the increasing technicality of vehicles (increase in the number of on-board electronic equipment) forces mechanics to employ a highly qualified workforce which significantly increases personnel costs. In addition, the equipment necessary for the maintenance of new technologies requires state-of-the-art equipment and obliges professionals to make heavy investments. Finally, the increasing reliability of vehicles weighs on the activity of professionals in the sector.
Although activity in the sector was penalized during the first lockdown (postponement of maintenance/repair requests and technical checks), the recovery in post-lockdown activity, combined with the dynamism of the passenger vehicle sales segment occasion, has made it possible to limit the decline in turnover in 2020.
The rebound in activity in the sector in 2021 will be based on the aging of the vehicle fleet, the good performance of the second-hand market as well as a positive price effect linked to the increasing technicality of vehicles.
Independent mechanics : (vehicle repair mechanics) are not part of the official brand networks. They are generalists. They often carry out a specialized complementary activity (fuel, electricity-auto, repair-towing, etc.). They can obtain the approval of one or more manufacturers to provide after-sales service for their brands.
Dealerships : carry out their activity within the legal framework of a dealership contract with the manufacturer, ensuring the sale and after-sales service of vehicles of their brand. With the entry into force of the new regulations, dealers are no longer the only ones who can provide after-sales service for the brand’s vehicles.
Brand agents : they are bound by an agency contract with a dealer for the sale of vehicles on which they are commissioned. Their activity consists mainly of carrying out maintenance and repair work on vehicles of their brand, but not exclusively.
Specialized under-brand networks : there are two types of networks: quick repair networks (Speedy, Midas, Axto, etc.) specializing in car repairs and auto center networks (Feu Vert, Maxauto, Norauto, etc.) specializing in the sale of accessories and spare parts and which also carry out some maintenance activities.