Holden Financial Services Launches In Australia

GM Financial, the global automotive finance company of General Motors, has officially launched its Australian business, Holden Financial Services.

Holden Financial Services Managing Director, Richard Tatford, said GM Financial’s expansion into Australia is a compelling opportunity to partner with an established domestic automotive brand, a highly competitive vehicle portfolio and a committed dealer network.

“Holden Guaranteed Value – our first product offering – gives customers the choice and flexibility to trade in, keep or return their vehicle at the end of their selected finance term, with the peace of mind around the future value of their vehicle,” said Tatford.

“It is a promise to our customers that their vehicle should retain its value over time, because of the assurance of a guaranteed buyback at the end of their loan agreement. Customers can rest assured that the value of their vehicle is future proofed.”

“Our expansion into Australia is the latest example of how we are growing our business and providing mobility solutions that help us earn customers for life,” said Rick Livingood, Executive Vice President, Asia Pacific, GM Financial, who visited Melbourne for the Australian launch. “We are fully focused on creating added incremental value for Holden, the dealer network and our retail customers.”

Holden Chairman and Managing Director Dave Buttner said the launch of Holden Financial Services means the Holden dealer network can now utilise GM’s captive finance company to offer competitive and innovative finance options for customers.

“The launch of Holden Financial Services reflects General Motors’ confidence in the future of Holden,” said Buttner. “Many Holden dealers and customers have consistently told us that they would like the choice of a captive finance company as they consider finance options for a new vehicle purchase. We are delighted to now be able to offer Holden Financial Services, backed by the strength and global footprint of GM Financial.”

In addition to Australia, GM Financial has operations in the US, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China (through joint ventures), Colombia, Mexico and Peru, covering approximately 90 per cent of GM’s worldwide automotive sales footprint.

National Business Council Returns In 2019

The Axalta Services team will be showing body shops how to meet the challenges of achieving productivity and profitability, head on, through a National Business Council symposium held at the Novotel in St Kilda, Melbourne from 11 to 13 August 2019.

Axalta says Axalta Services works hard with body shops to successfully manage both productivity and profitability by creating networking and management training opportunities engineered specifically for body shops. The company says the National Business Council symposium creates such a platform to effectively demonstrate how, through innovative business solutions, body shops can restructure to create a more sustainable business model, helping to future proof their business.

“The 2019 National Business Council is all about providing valuable insights into some of the tools and techniques that are critical in increasing throughput and decreasing cycle times within the collision repair process,” said Robin Taylor, Axalta’s Services Manager.

According to Axalta, the symposium’s seminars will focus on issues that are currently impacting or will impact body shops, as well as “looking at effective business strategies, targeting customer relationship management and change management”.

Attendees will also hear from Collision Advice’s Mike Anderson, who brings extensive knowledge and experience from the US market. Anderson will discuss leading trends in the US and focus on his experience in a dynamic industry.

Happening every few years, Axalta says the National Business Council is a networking opportunity for people in the industry to come together and share their experiences. Not only do attendees leave with insights into how to make their body shop more productive and profitable, but they also leave with a greater understanding of where the refinish industry is heading and how rapidly it is evolving.

“After attending the National Business Council, it made me realise just how many changes are happening in our industry today,” said Bert Rowsell, Managing Director of Rowsell Collision Repairs, about the 2016 conference. “I gained valuable insights that I can now take back to my businesses and more importantly, I have great networking contacts with whom I can share ideas. I found the two-day seminar very informative, with quality guest speakers and lively group discussions. I eagerly await the next conference.”

To learn more about the National Business Council or to register your interest, please visit www.axalta.com.au/axaltaservices.

I-CAR Awards Insurer Gold Class To Auto & General Insurance

I-CAR Australia’s Gold Class Coordinator, Gary Wood, announced that Auto & General Insurance has been awarded the prestigious I-CAR Gold Class Insurer status.

“Auto & General is very pleased to be awarded Gold Class Insurer status by I-CAR Australia,” said Anthony Matthews, General Manager Assessing. At Auto & General we realise that our biggest asset is our people, and partnering with I-CAR we are committed to ensuring our assessors are best in class, highly skilled and equipped to manage the ongoing developments in the smash repair industry.

“Auto & General is proud to partner with I-CAR to ensure that our assessors understand our customers’ needs, make the process easy the first time and every time, and with our partner repairers, ensure every car is returned to customers with the required repair specifications.”

“To achieve Insurer Gold Class, a minimum of 75 per cent of an insurance company’s assessing staff must have been awarded the Platinum Individual designation,” said I-CAR’s Gary Wood.

“Auto & General Insurance has shown a great commitment to I-CAR’s Professional Development Program to meet those requirements and as a result have achieved I-CAR Gold Class Insurer status. This will ensure that all assessing staff have the skills and knowledge to provide safe repairs for their members. Congratulations to everyone at Auto & General Insurance on a fantastic achievement.”

EC Fines Car Safety Equipment Suppliers € 368 Million In Cartel Settlement

The European Commission has fined Autoliv and TRW more than € 368 million for breaching EU antitrust rules. Takata was not fined as it revealed the cartels to the Commission.

According to the EC, the companies took part in two cartels for the supply of car seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels to European car producers. All three suppliers acknowledged their involvement in the cartels and agreed to settle the case.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy said: “This is the second time we fine car safety equipment suppliers for participating in a cartel. Components such as seatbelts and airbags are essential for the safety of the millions of people that use their car to drive to work or take their children to school every day. The three suppliers colluded to increase their profits from the sale of these life-saving components. These cartels ultimately hurt European consumers and adversely impacted the competitiveness of the European automotive sector, which employs around 13 million people in the EU.”

The three car equipment suppliers addressed in this decision exchanged commercially sensitive information and coordinated their market behaviour for the supply of seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels to the Volkswagen Group and the BMW Group. The coordination to form and run the cartel took place mainly through meetings at the suppliers’ business premises but also in restaurants and hotels, as well as through phone calls and e-mail exchanges.

Solera Breaks Ground On North America Research And Training Centre

Solera Holdings hosted a “ground-breaking” for its research and training centre, CESVI LIV Centre of North America (CESVI LIV NA), last week.

The ground-breaking ceremony, which took place in Justin, Texas, was performed by Chris Mullen, Executive Director of CESVI LIV NA, and Tony Aquila, founder, Chairman and CEO of Solera.

Solera says the facility will focus on providing “factual, credible and documented research” which will be disseminated throughout training and expert consultancy on advanced technology trends.

Research will span the automotive insurance, collision repair, vehicle manufacturer and vehicle owner industries. CESVI LIV NA will provide insight and deliver tools to reduce repair costs within the North American claims environment, and will also integrate OEM repair procedures into consultation and training that “promotes best practices in vehicle service, maintenance and repair”.

“This centre will add value to the automotive insurance industry,” said Chris Mullen, Executive Director of CESVI LIV NA.” “Our research, consultation, technology and training will provide data and insights into the most efficient and effective repair processes, which will then support better residual values and create more cost-efficient automotive repairs, ensuring safe vehicles get back on the road.”

I-CAR Presents Gold Class Insurer To IAG

Mark Czvitkovits, CEO I-CAR Australia, presented the new Gold Class Insurer plaque to Steve Fitzpatrick, EGM Motor Repair Model, IAG.

IAG was the first and for several years the only Australian Insurer to attain this internationally recognised status. Their ongoing commitment to training has seen IAG retain their Gold Class accreditation for six years.

To attain and maintain Gold Insurer status a minimum of 60 per cent of the company’s assessors must maintain their individual Platinum Status by completing 10 initial I-CAR training courses then a further two courses in the following years. Nationally in excess of 90 per cent of IAG assessors have Platinum status.

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.

Will German Manufacturers And Suppliers Ally Over Autonomous Cars?

Leading German car manufacturers could join forces to advance together in the race for autonomous cars, according to German media reports.

Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler, as well as suppliers Bosch and Continental are “evaluating” the possibility of an alliance to develop autonomous mobility, according to the German weekly Manager Magazin.

Earlier, the daily Handelsblatt had already held discussions between Daimler and BMW, while Bloomberg had reported preliminary talks between these two manufacturers in late 2018.

BMW, which already cooperates with Fiat and Intel, told AFP that “other companies are interested in a collaboration” around its “non-exclusive” platform for autonomous driving.

“Strategic partnerships and a large network of research and development are key success factors” because of the “substantial investment” necessary for the development of the autonomous car, explained a Volkswagen spokesman. Thus, the group “considers several projects in common with other companies in all regions of the world,” he added, refusing – like his counterpart at BMW – to specifically comment on the different press information.

Daimler, Continental and Bosch had no comment.

Last week, Volkswagen and Ford announced an alliance on vans and pickups to significantly reduce their production costs, while looking ahead to continuing discussions on a partnership in the field of electric and autonomous vehicles and mobility services.

According to Manager Magazin, the discussions between Volkswagen and Ford have not resulted in a wider agreement because the boss of VW, Herbert Diess, would prefer an alliance between German companies.

These discussions come at a time when the automotive industry is racing to develop these expensive technologies that are supposed to define the modes of transport of tomorrow.

The uncertainty and the sums involved encourage alliances: for example, Honda has recently invested in General Motors’ “Cruise” subsidiary, which is focused on autonomous technologies.

Volkswagen And Ford Launch Global Alliance

Volkswagen AG and Ford Motor Company announced their first formal agreements in a broad alliance that positions the companies to boost competitiveness and better serve customers in an era of rapid change in the industry.

Volkswagen CEO Dr. Herbert Diess and Ford CEO Jim Hackett confirmed that the companies intend to develop commercial vans and medium-sized pickups for global markets beginning as early as 2022. The alliance will drive significant scale and efficiencies and enable both companies to share investments in vehicle architectures that deliver distinct capabilities and technologies.

The companies estimate the commercial van and pickup cooperation will yield improved annual pre-tax operating results, starting in 2023.

In addition, Volkswagen and Ford have signed a memorandum of understanding to investigate collaboration on autonomous vehicles, mobility services and electric vehicles. Both companies have started to explore opportunities, and they have also said they were open to considering additional vehicle programmes in the future. The teams will continue working through details in the coming months.

“Over time, this alliance will help both companies create value and meet the needs of our customers and society,” said Hackett. “It will not only drive significant efficiencies and help both companies improve their fitness, but also gives us the opportunity to collaborate on shaping the next era of mobility.”

Diess added: “Volkswagen and Ford will harness our collective resources, innovation capabilities and complementary market positions to even better serve millions of customers around the world. At the same time, the alliance will be a cornerstone for our drive to improve competitiveness.”

The alliance, which does not entail cross-ownership between the two companies, will be governed by a joint committee. This committee will be led by Hackett and Diess along with including senior executives from both companies.

Ford and Volkswagen both have strong commercial van and pickup businesses around the globe, with popular nameplates such as the Ford Transit family and Ranger as well as the Volkswagen Transporter, Caddy and Amarok.

The companies’ collective light commercial vehicle volumes from 2018 totalled approximately 1.2 million units globally, which could represent the industry’s highest-volume collaboration as production scales.

Demand for both medium pickups and commercial vans is expected to grow globally in the next five years. The alliance will enable the companies to share development costs, leverage their respective manufacturing capacity, boost the capability and competitiveness of their vehicles and deliver cost efficiencies, while maintaining distinct brand characteristics.

Through the alliance, Ford will engineer and build medium-sized pickups for both companies which are expected to go to market as early as 2022. For both parties, Ford intends to engineer and build larger commercial vans for European customers, and Volkswagen intends to develop and build a city van.

PPG To Acquire Hemmelrath

PPG said it has reached a “definitive agreement” to acquire automotive coatings manufacturer Hemmelrath, a German manufacturer of coatings for automotive original equipment manufacturers.

“We are excited to add Hemmelrath to our robust and diversified automotive coatings offering,” said Michael McGarry, PPG Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “This acquisition is another step forward in our strategic growth plan that will provide further value to our customers and shareholders.”

Headquartered in Klingenberg, Germany, Hemmelrath is a family-owned manufacturer of OEMs. With more than 450 employees, the company operates manufacturing facilities in Klingenberg and Erlenbach in Germany, as well as Jilin in China, Duncan in South Carolina, USA and Indaiatuba in Brazil.

Hemmelrath supplies automotive plants worldwide and more than seven million vehicles are coated with its products each year.

“The fit between Hemmelrath and PPG is complementary,” said Rebecca Liebert, PPG Senior Vice President, Automotive Coatings. “The acquisition will enhance PPG’s automotive coatings offering and add formulating and manufacturing solutions.”