Citroën Unveils AMI One Concept

Citroën says it has marked 100 years of innovation and boldness with the unveiling of the Ami One Concept, an all-electric vehicle that “places digital technology at the heart of urban mobility”. The company will exhibit the concept at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show.

A full electric vehicle concept car capable of carrying two people, the French car manufacturer says the Ami One is faithful to the brand promise “Inspired by You”, and is the company’s response to new customer behaviour and the “challenge of the energy transition in urban environments”.

Designed to be utilised without a driver’s licence in France, the Ami One is accompanied by a global digital ecosystem “fostering a modern, cheerful and broadly accessible mobility experience”.

The concept aims to rethink the customer journey, offering ‘on-demand’ use ranging from five-minutes to five-years. This would cover a range of scenarios from car-sharing and rentals to a full-blown purchase.

The Ami One includes a mobile app that motorists can use to “manage their relationship with the vehicle”, providing access to a portal of services tailored to each journey.

I-CAR Australia Awards Gold Class To More Shops

I-CAR Australia Gold Class Coordinator Gary Wood announced that Sommerville Smash Repairs in Nerang, Queensland and Wayne Phipps Smash Repairs in Midland, Western Australia have been awarded the prestigious I-CAR Gold Class Collision status.

“Chris first approached us just over 12 months ago with an interest in becoming Gold Class accredited,” said Wood. “Following the training plan created for his shop, the staff have been regular participants in virtual training sessions and have been a pleasure to deal with. I look forward to continuing the relationship with Chris and the team at Sommerville Smash.”

“On behalf of the Sommerville Smash Repairs team, we are mighty proud of our latest achievement of I-CAR Gold status, we thank all the I-CAR team for their assistance throughout the journey, and a special thanks to Axalta,” said Chris Agnew.

“It has been a great month for everyone involved at Wayne Phipps Smash Repairs,” added Wood. “Along with achieving I-CAR Gold Class status they have also become part of the Holden Certified Repairer Network. Wayne Phipps Smash Repairs join an exclusive group of repairers who continue to set high standards in the industry.”

“Wayne Phipps is extremely proud to have achieved I-CAR Gold status,” said Wayne Phipps. “It has taken some time and energy but has been worth the ride. Staff at Wayne Phipps Smash Repairs have been enthusiastic and competitive during the journey.

“All of us at Wayne Phipps Smash Repairs look forward to working with I-CAR on our journey of continuous improvement.”

Wayne Phipps Smash Repair
Wayne Phipps Smash Repairs.

The 2019 Collision Repair Expo – SAPE’s Biggest Ever Display

The SAPE Group (Sydney Automotive Paints & Equipment) says it is proud to, once again, be the official major sponsor of The Collision Repair Expo (CRE), held concurrently with the 2019 Australian Auto Aftermarket (AAA) Expo from 4-6 April at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Building on the success of the Collision Repair Expo in recent years, the SAPE Group says it has committed to expanding its presence at the show, doubling its footprint with four stands spanning 216 square metres – one of the biggest displays at the event.

Stand AD2 and AE2, located near the show entrance, will span 180 square metres and display the latest collision repair technology, products and equipment from international brands such as Celette, GYS, Jollift,  Autorobot, Innovative Tools, Prowotech, Kamatec and IRT/Drester.

A contingent of international guests will be on hand to discuss the latest products on the market. Confirmed guests include Pierre Nicolau and Ratan Youti Samal (Celette France), Cédric Ouguergouz  (GYS France), Jarkko Venäläinen (Autorobot Finland) and Andrea Callini (Jollift Italy).

The first of the smaller stands, AF14, will span 18 square metres and showcase SAPE’s consumables range including Juice Polishes, POR-15 and Scangrip. The company will launch new products, including the much-anticipated Juice Endurance and N-Cut, plus new detailing and work lights from Scangrip.

The second of the smaller stands, AE52, also spans 18 square metres and will feature Roar Advanced Finishing’s automotive range of compounds, glazes and buff pads.

“The Collision Repair Expo is a great flagship event for our industry,” said SAPE Company Director, Paul McMartin. “This year we aim to display many of our popular range of products along with some new and innovative ones which will span over four large display spaces.”

VW’s Dune Buggy Is Back… And Now It’s Electric

At the beginning of March, Volkswagen will reveal the first fully electric version of a new buggy. Taking its cues from popular American dune buggies, the concept vehicle is based on the Modular Electric Drive Matrix (MEB) – designed to demonstrate how multifaceted the new platform truly is, according to Volkswagen.

The company says the concept of the fully electric buggy is based on the historical predecessors that found their home in California and Australia. Back then, the chassis of the Beetle served as the basis; now, the MEB platform is apparently proving to be just as flexible. This reinterpretation of a proper buggy has no fixed roof or conventional doors, while the free-standing wheels fitted with off-road tyres and open side sills dominate the overall look.

VW says the new MEB concept vehicle shows that the fully electric platform can be used for more than just large-scale series production models. Like previous Beetle chassis, the company feels MEB has the potential to facilitate the development of low-volume niche series.

The company notes that the history of recreational vehicles and its technology is a long one – from the Beetle convertible and special bodies produced by companies such as Hebmüller and Rometsch, to fully open designs of the kind embraced by the Meyers Manx buggy, the Beetle chassis allowed for creative – and sometimes exclusive – custom solutions for decades. Globally, around 250,000 individual vehicles were built as one-offs or at low volumes through to the 1980s.

The fully electric concept buggy will be revealed for the first time at the 89th International Geneva Motor Show (7 to 17 March 2019).

UPDATED: Associations Express Mixed Views Over Government Mandatory Repair Information Paper

(UPDATE 13 Feb: This article has been updated with the MTA NSW’s response.)
Three automotive industry associations have expressed mixed reaction to the release of the federal government’s consultation paper on the introduction of a mandatory scheme for the sharing of vehicle service and repair information between car companies and independent repairers.

The AAAA said it welcomed the document’s release but warned that some aspects of the paper are inconsistent with the ACCC’s findings. VACC gave it a “lukewarm” reception and labelled it “weak”, while the Motor Traders’ Association of NSW “strongly welcomed” the Government’s commitment to guarantee independent repairers access to car manufacturers’ data.

“We strongly encourage the government to take onboard the full ACCC findings and recommendations relating to the attributes of a mandatory scheme, as the overriding objective of this scheme is to provide fair and open competition to promote choice and affordability for all Australian car owners,” said AAAA Chief Executive Officer, Stuart Charity.

“We are concerned about the language used throughout the consultation paper that relate to “exclusions” and “restrictions” that may be included in a mandatory code.  Of course, there will need to be safeguards in place to protect the security and integrity of vehicle related data, however vehicle security should not be used as an excuse by car companies to withhold critical information required to complete a vehicle repair or service.

“These terms were not used in the ACCC Final Report and if they are included in the final code, we have no doubt that car companies will fully exploit this by linking all required information to either security, safety or emissions, and in reality, nothing will have changed for consumers,” said Charity.

“In order for Australian consumers to be treated fairly when it comes to the scheduled servicing, maintenance and repair of their vehicles, car companies should not be able to decide who receives information based on their own definitions relating to safety, security and emissions. The ACCC’s Final Report recommended that all required technical information ‘be shared with independent repairers on commercially fair and reasonable terms, subject to appropriate safeguards to enable the sharing of environmental, safety and security-related technical information,’ and we fully support this recommendation,” he added.

The association is also concerned by the potential for manufacturers to determine the appropriate level of investment by independent workshops in order to access service and repair data. The AAAA believes this will allow vehicle manufacturers to charge exorbitant fees for information, special tools, training and equipment and is unworkable in a market of more than 70 car brands.

“We believe that after two separate government inquiries on this matter and over eight years of consultation, it is now time for the government to build on the ACCC’s findings and recommendations and implement a mandatory code as a matter of urgency,” said Charity.

VACC expressed disappointment over the paper’s lack of penalties for manufacturers that fail to comply with the directive.

“Frankly, this document is not worth the paper it’s printed on,” said VACC Chief Executive Officer, Geoff Gwilym. “If a ‘mandated code’ has no penalties for non-compliance it will not work in the real world.”

VACC wants the government to revise its paper to include significant penalties in a bid to garner largescale compliance.

“VACC has been calling for a mandated code for a long time now. We will not be satisfied until it is a genuine mandated code – this means that there are explicit penalties if manufacturers fail in their obligations to share the information for which they are obliged.”

Gwilym said the time for consultation has long since expired and that all sides of government need to get on with the job of making a mandated code a reality.

“All stakeholders know what’s expected. But relying on goodwill has simply not worked in the past. The industry needs the next federal government to mandate a code of conduct where expectations are fully explained, along with the ramifications for those OEMs who will not play fair.”

VACC said the Labor Party is on record as supporting a mandated code for the sharing of motor vehicle service and repair information, something Gwilym believes will become an election issue.

“In the lead-up to the next federal election, Australian motorists – all 15 million of them – will consider this significant consumer issue as they enter polling booths and decide on this country’s next federal government,” said Gwilym.

MTA NSW said the release of a consultation paper was a step in the right direction, and welcomed the intended creation of an advisory group which will include the association working alongside the national body, the MTAA.

“As the only NSW employer association to represent dealers, independent service providers, repairers, dismantlers/recyclers and other automotive industries, MTA NSW has worked closely over the last 24 months with MTAA to advocate to ensure any regulatory solution takes into account the needs of all automotive businesses and consumers,” said MTA NSW CEO, Stavros Yallouridis.

“We have proactively participated with the MTAA member states and territories to develop a draft code of conduct as a potential solution which has involved extensive analysis of both European and US practical experiences to ensure a pragmatic approach is achieved.

“The code of conduct must not advantage or disadvantage any service provider over another and ensure consumer choice and a level playing field for all automotive sector industry participants. If done correctly then there should be benefits for dealers, independent mechanical repairers and other repair providers,” added Yallouridis.

Axalta Opens New ANZ Head Office In Sydney

Axalta today officially opened its new Australia and New Zealand regional head office.

The company said the 5300 square metre multi-functional facility will enable higher quality and faster service for customers throughout the region, greater access to the company’s broad selection of advanced coating technologies and products, and more efficient supply chain solutions for customers.

Axalta CEO, Robert Bryant, said the facility is a significant milestone for Axalta and its customers in the region.

“It demonstrates our confidence in the growing Australian and New Zealand markets and creates an important opportunity to be closer to our customers under one roof,” said Bryant. Customers will benefit because of the greater access to new products, faster customer service, and the unique training opportunities offered at our new facility. In addition, the expanded presence in ANZ enhances the capacity we need to meet our long-term growth plans in the region, which is an integral part of our continued global growth.”

Located in Marsden Park, Western Sydney, the facility will house regional corporate offices, a customer training facility, and a warehouse and distribution centre. Each of Axalta’s business segments – Refinish, Industrial, and Transportation – will be represented in the new building.

The state-of-the-art customer training centre will use Axalta’s latest coating technologies, training techniques and digital tools. The company said this will help customers achieve high quality results while increasing productivity and profitability.

Axalta said customers will also gain in-depth knowledge of the latest spraying application systems that use less energy and reduce waste, have fast-drying finish, and use superior colour matching technologies. The training centre is expected to be fully operational within the next four months.

“Axalta is the world leader in refinish and consistently invests in enhancing our capabilities, facilities, and training to help customers grow their businesses,” said Steven Brett, Managing Director, Australia and New Zealand, Axalta. “We provide our customers with access to the latest products and innovations in the industry and offer the best training available. We are excited about our new training capabilities in the region, and that we can now offer the most efficient warehousing and distribution methods all from this terrific new facility.”

From left: Vice President and President Emerging Markets, Sobers Sethi; CEO Robert Bryant; and Managing Director Australia and New Zealand, Steven Brett.
From left: Vice President and President Emerging Markets, Sobers Sethi; CEO Robert Bryant; and Managing Director Australia and New Zealand, Steven Brett, officially cut the ribbon to open Axalta’s new head office in Australia and New Zealand.

Full-Size Lego Chevrolet Silverado Model

In a cross-promotional effort, GM and Lego teamed up to produce a full-sized replica of the Chevrolet Silverado made out of LEGO bricks—the Lego Silverado.

The model is based on the 2019 Silverado 1500 LT Trail Boss and is the first full-sized Chevrolet car or truck built exclusively out of the Lego building blocks.

Capricorn Searches For The Next Rising Star

Capricorn has launched its 2019 Rising Stars Apprentice of the Year competition, which helps members recognise, reward and retain their high performing repairers.

With support from major sponsorship partner Castrol, Capricorn will identify outstanding apprentices from more than 20,000 general automotive, collision repair, commercial vehicle, auto-electrical, fabrication and other automotive member workshops across Australia and New Zealand.

Offering more than $20,000 in prizes, the competition runs from February to April, 2019.

The winning apprentice, their workshop boss and two friends will score an all-expenses paid trip to the Gold Coast 600 Supercars race meeting, along with 150,000 Bonus Capricorn Reward Points (valued at $1500) from Castrol. The winner will also receive training at the Workshop Whisperer’s Leadership Academy to help fast-track their career development.

The top five finalists, including the overall winner, will receive a $1000 tool kit and Autopedia subscription from Repco, two tickets to attend Repco Masterclass Clinics, additional online training from AutoMate and tickets to the Capricorn Gala Dinner and Tradeshow in their closest city, along with additional prizes.

Capricorn CEO Automotive and Rising Stars judge, David Fraser, described the Capricorn Rising Stars Apprentice of the Year competition as an important initiative to assist in addressing the shortage of qualified mechanics and other repairers.

“We’ve listened to our members when they’ve told us that one of their biggest concerns for the future is the lack of qualified mechanics and technicians. As a co-operative that exists purely to make it easier for our members to run and grow their business, Capricorn is very pleased to be running this top performing apprentice-based initiative,” said Fraser.

“It’s not just about who wins. Through Capricorn Rising Stars we hope to encourage more of the best young people working in the industry, letting them know that they have a bright future ahead of them,” he added.

The Capricorn Rising Stars judging panel includes some of the most experienced automotive aftermarket industry professionals in the country. The panel includes AAAA Chief Executive Officer Stuart Charity, Castrol General Manager (Australia & New Zealand) Tanya Ghosn, TaT Biz Director Jeff Smit, The Workshop Whisperer Managing Director Rachael Scheldrick, and Gavin Cribb from the Kangan Institute’s Automotive Centre of Excellence.

To enter, Capricorn Members must nominate apprentices at www.capricornrisingstars.com. Nominees have until 30 April 2019 to complete their applications.

Robayne Goes Into Voluntary Administration

A Perth-based national distributor of paints and coatings has entered voluntary administration owing $12 million to creditors.

Robayne, which operates 14 outlets in WA, the Northern Territory, South Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria, called in administrators from FTI Consulting following action by a major supplier.

Robayne listed $5 million owing to trade creditors and another $7 million to lenders. The action puts 86 jobs at risk.

Joint administrator Ian Francis said FTI was working closely with Robayne’s management team, customers, suppliers, and employees as it sought to find the best way forward. Options for the business include a restructure or sale.

Francis said the company is working with its financier and a third party to restructure the existing debt facilities to longer term loans, which will create less pressure on cash flow in the short term.

Established in 1974, Robayne turned over $36.4 million last financial year. The company distributes paints and protective equipment to body shops, as well as industrial and commercial graphic sectors.

Ghosn Resigns, Renault And Nissan Pledge To Continue Alliance

Carlos Ghosn, the architect of the Renault-Nissan alliance, resigned from Renault as he remains incarcerated in Japan where he is accused of financial misconduct at Nissan. Ghosn was sacked by Nissan shortly after his arrest on 19 November.

Renault announced the appointment of Michelin’s Jean-Dominique Senard as its new chairman, while interim CEO Thierry Bolloré will now take on the role on a permanent basis. Ghosn originally retained both roles at Renault after his arrest in Japan, despite other alliance members Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors swiftly removing him from the roles he held at those companies.

Renault and Nissan have pledged to continue their alliance, with Nissan’s chief executive Hiroto Saikawa welcoming Renault’s management shake-up.

“In the big picture, this is a big milestone that we are reaching. We are starting a new chapter. So, I welcome this new leadership of Renault,” Saikawa said.

Ghosn faces three charges of financial misconduct in Japan, including understating his income and aggravated breach of trust. He denies any wrongdoing and could remain in custody for months after his second application for bail was denied.