What the IMI can do for you – TNB talks to Steve Nash

Posted on: 25 Feb 2013

Steve Nash might have a background firmly rooted in passenger cars, but he’s got big plans for the Commercial Vehicles sector. Transport News Brief visited the new IMI CEO at the organisation’s offices in Hereford.

“I really want to expand the reach of the IMI,” says Nash “I’m not an expert on the CV sector. It’s an area that I haven’t had an awful lot of involvement with in my previous life, but from an IMI perspective we’re very pleased to be involved. What we’re trying to achieve across the whole industry applies equally to the CV sector. We want to work with people who want to improve their standards and to demonstrate that to their customers. That’s always been our case.

“From where I’ve sat the CV sector has always been a difficult business. It’s very different to the car side, clearly you’re dealing with people whose living depends on these vehicles, so the pressure those guys are under to repair and maintain those vehicles is a bit different. While a customer will always want their car fixed on time, there are ways you can deal with delays. That’s not as easy when you’re dealing with trucks. Downtime is the big difference.”

“We’re pretty strong already on the technical side of things and in the past membership has been biased on that, and there’s nothing wrong with that. At the same time we need more reach on the management and leadership side. Some of that will come naturally through the processes we already have in place, the accreditation side for example.”

Accreditation is gathering pace, and the launch of the IMI’s professional register in April is getting closer. All ATA accredited technicians, including those working in the CV sector, will automatically be added. Of course the Irtec licensing scheme is also still available through the Society of Operations Engineers, and the IMI has thrown the considerable weight of its accreditation department behind it.

The group is also working to improve its training offering to CV technicians. Nash says the IMI has recently partnered with Scania, which has opened the doors of its own training academy to the wider sector: “Obviously it focuses on Scania product there are also a lot of generic systems. It’s highly relevant to people who are working on commercial vehicles of different makes. We’ll work to widen that if we can.”

Improvements to both training and accreditation, then. That said, Nash admits there is still a negative perception of the CV sector with some people: “There is a perception, and I don’t think it’s fair. People know very little about it [the CV sector], all the public is aware of is that on a motorway there’ll be two lanes full of large vehicles.

“People don’t properly equate that to how the economy works, that this is how we get our goods around. As with the motor trade sometimes it’s isolated things that are not reflective of the whole sector which tend to set the public perception. They’ll see huge foreign trucks over here causing issues, and those things gain massive headlines. People take that to be the norm rather than the exception.”

Perhaps a shift to smaller, more economical electric commercial vehicles might help to improve that perception. Nash has already noted a growing interest in the future of electric trucks and vans: “We know that a lot of public authorities are interested in electric vehicles. The application in those circumstances makes a lot of sense, because quite often those vehicles work on known routes for known distances. In those cases the whole anxiety about range becomes more manageable.”

Nash agrees that there are differences between what passenger car technicians might need from the IMI and what the CV sector needs, but that isn’t a barrier for him: “There are problems that we all face in the motor trade, like communicating professionalism. We have to accept that in the broad church that is the motor industry, absolutely anyone can set themselves up, with or without training or skill. We have to be able to differentiate between the good, the bad and the ugly. That’s in the interest of everyone, and if people don’t want to be good then we don’t want to represent them. We don’t look at what we don’t want; we look at what we do want. We want to represent everyone who wants to be professional about this, and there’s more than enough out there across the whole scope of what the motor industry is.”