NSF International Appoints Scott Dunfee Global MD of Automotive Certification

NSF International, a global organization with more than 70 years of independent testing, auditing and certification expertise, including extensive experience in the automotive supply chain, has appointed Scott Dunfee Global Managing Director of Automotive Certification. Dunfee brings more than 20 years of insurance, technical leadership and repair expertise to NSF International.

NSF International provides oversight and accountability to the automotive parts and repair industry by ensuring manufacturers, distributors, repair shops and recyclers provide high-quality products and services at each step of the supply chain. As Global Managing Director, Dunfee will oversee NSF International’s automotive certification programs working closely with automotive parts manufacturers, distributors, collision repair shops, automotive recyclers and insurers.

“Scott’s extensive insurance and aftermarket parts and service expertise will help address the needs of NSF International clients and other stakeholders throughout the automotive supply chain, while expanding services both in the U.S. and globally,” said Bob Frayer, Sr. Global Managing Director of Automotive Certification at NSF International. “Scott is the ideal fit for this position and I look forward to working with him to grow and advance the program.”

Prior to joining NSF International, Dunfee worked 23 years for Nationwide Insurance. During his tenure with Nationwide’s material damage claims operation, Dunfee played a leading role in the development and implementation of several key automotive parts and distributor-based initiatives. Most recently, he successfully served as a Material Damage Claims Director in the insurer’s centralised claims operation.

BMW Sued Over Emissions-Test Cheating

BMW AG is the latest company to be added to the growing list of car manufacturers sued by U.S. drivers for installing software designed to cheat diesel-emissions tests.

Tens of thousands of X5 and 335D model diesel cars built between 2009 and 2011 are the culprit vehicles whose owners are suing BMW and its technology supplier, Robert Bosch GmbH.

The lawsuit alleges the company installed algorithms designed to manipulate testing systems, using methods similar to those admitted to by Volkswagen AG. They claim those vehicles are polluting at up to 27 times the legal limit, according to the complaint filed in New Jersey federal court.

Steve Berman, the claimants’ lawyer who has filed similar claims against Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Fiat Chrysler, GM and Volkswagen, said. “At these levels, these cars aren’t just dirty — they don’t meet standards to be legally driven on U.S. streets and no one would have bought these cars if BMW had told the truth.”

BMW North America spokesman Kenn Sparks said in a statement: “As a matter of principle, BMW Group vehicles are not manipulated and comply with all respective legal requirements.”

Last week, prosecutors raided the company’s Munich headquarters and its engine plant in Steyr, Austria, to look into 7-Series and 5-Series sedans after BMW admitted it mistakenly put the wrong software in almost 12,000 diesel vehicles

Capricorn Group CEO Greg Wall To Retire

Capricorn Group Chief Executive Officer Greg Wall has announced that he will retire from his role in June 2019. Together with the support of the Capricorn Board of Directors, Wall’s experience and leadership has been integral to the continued success of this cooperative organisation. He and his team have ensured that Capricorn continues to generate record returns for all of its Member shareholders throughout his highly successful tenure.

According to Wall, this was not an easy decision to make, given Capricorn’s constant growth and success.

“This was not an easy decision and it followed careful consideration and deliberation with both the Capricorn Board and my family. Capricorn is in great shape and has such an exciting future ahead. It is and will continue to be a great organisation and I have loved every minute of making it “just easier” for our Members to run and grow their businesses. I am so proud of what we have achieved together over the nearly seven years since I joined Capricorn,” He stated.

“I will work with the Capricorn Board to plan and deliver the best possible outcome in terms of my successor as Capricorn continues to evolve and go from strength to strength. It has been a pleasure to be at the helm of this wonderful cooperative. In the meantime I look forward to continuing to make it “just easier” for all of our Members,” Wall said.

Wall has deliberately made this early retirement announcement in the interests of complete transparency to both the Capricorn Board and the many thousands of Capricorn Members across Australia and New Zealand.

BASF Automotive Refinish Launches New Website

BASF Refinish Automotive Coatings launched a new, completely mobile-friendly website with updated images and content, and unique tools, including an asset cart and an advanced product catalogue.

“Every word, every image and every tool on the Refinish site was created with the customer in mind,” said Tina Nelles, BASF Marketing Services manager. “Our goal was to create a journey for our customers – how BASF provides more than paint and, most importantly, the benefits we offer to our customers.”

Users can filter the product catalogue based on country, brand, paint system, product type, volatile organic compounds, and keywords, or they can simply scroll through BASF’s products. The site also includes technical manuals, technical data sheets, safety data sheets and more.

The distinctive asset cart, which can be used in conjunction with the product catalogue or independently, offers a unique advantage to BASF Refinish website visitors by allowing them to “shop” throughout the site. Visitors can add assets to the cart from anyplace in the website, not just from product pages, similar to a shopping cart on a clothing or grocery retailer’s website. Customers then have the option to download all cart contents or email them to anyone.

Available in three languages, the new site also features a section dedicated to showcasing BASF Refinish customers and brand ambassadors, the recently launched Vision+ suite of business services and live social media feeds.

IAG Reviewing Asian Operations

Insurance Australia Group, the country’s biggest general insurer by market share, is conducting a strategic review of its Asian operations, including considering selling off units in the region.

The company says in a statement that as part of its Asia strategy, it has focused on growth via market consolidation and increased ownership. IAG’s current assessment is that such opportunities are limited, resulting in its decision to conduct a strategic review of the options available for its Asian businesses.

“We have always taken a measured approach to Asia and we believe this is the right time to review the immediate and longer term strategic options for our individual Asian businesses given the limited expansion opportunities,” IAG Managing Director and CEO Peter Harmer said.

This review is expected to be concluded by the end of 2018.

“The options could range from, if we had the opportunity, to investing more capital under conditions we think are appropriate, all the way through to disposing of assets,” Harmer said.

IAG reveals that the Asian division contributed a profit of A$15 million in the six months to 31 December 2017, compared to A$2 million in the corresponding period the previous year. The increase is attributed in part to recovery in Thailand and growth in India.

The 1H18 results, though, include a writedown of A$50 million (US$39 million), included in the amortisation and impairment expense line, following a review of carrying values applicable to the respective Asian businesses.

IAG, which specialises in motor and property insurance, has invested about A$850 million in the region since 1998 and has a presence in five Asian markets – Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and India.

IAG’s net profit increased by 24 per cent to A$551 million in the six months ended 31 December 2017, helped by higher fees and reserve releases. Gross written premiums rose by 0.6 per cent to A$5,834 million for the half-year, helped by rate increases. The company expects “low single-digit growth” in gross premiums for the full year to 30 June 2018.

Volkswagen Group Opens Future Center Asia In Beijing

Volkswagen Group officially opened Future Center Asia, one of three such centres worldwide that will take a whole new approach to envisioning people’s mobility needs of the future and creating visionary solutions. “With these centres, we are breaking down the traditional barriers by bringing together exterior and interior designers, user experience experts and specialists for Artificial intelligence, Smart City, Start-up scouting and Engineering. Inspired by people we want to develop visionary products and services to give our customers a feeling of being home even when they are on the road”, says Jochem Heizmann, member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG as well as the President and CEO of Volkswagen Group China.

The new centre forms part of Volkswagen’s global network of three Future Centers, with Future Center Europe located in Potsdam, Germany, and Future Center California in Belmont, Silicon Valley. The Future Centers have been established in key regions to address the increasing regional differentiation in the mobility market and access best talent pools. Future Center Asia will provide mobility solutions specifically for the Chinese and Asian markets and ideas and concepts that also can be transferred to the world. The group-wide solutions will be integrated into our strong brands.

As a network, the three Future Centers act as global incubators for innovative ideas and as competence centres that bring together the creativity and the knowledge of the Group family. While Future Center California draws on influences from Silicon Valley and focuses on the best digital user experience, UX software and accessible mobility solutions, Future Center Europe mainly works on the development of future mobility concepts based on self-driving automobiles like SEDRIC, as well as overall vehicle design. Future Center Asia, meanwhile, works intensively on special design concepts for China and Asian markets. Strong exchange between all Centers will enable solutions from each to be transferred throughout the global markets.

BASF Opens Its First Automotive Coatings Production Plant In Thailand

BASF’s Coatings division has opened a new automotive coatings plant at its Bangpoo manufacturing site in Samutprakarn province, Thailand. The new plant is the first BASF automotive coatings manufacturing facility in ASEAN, and will produce solvent-borne and waterborne automotive coatings to meet growing market demand in the region.

“BASF is a trusted partner of all major automotive manufacturers around the world, with a broad competence in all coating layers,” said Dirk Bremm, President of BASF’s Coatings division. “The inauguration of the new plant demonstrates our commitment to meeting customer expectations for advanced coating technologies and products in ASEAN, for ASEAN.”

According to the LMC Automotive Report of November 2017, this year’s total ASEAN car production is anticipated to reach around 3.9 million vehicles. Thailand will account for more than 50 per cent of this market, representing the largest coatings market within ASEAN, followed by Indonesia and Malaysia.

With an increasing number of automotive OEMs engaging in production and technology development activities in ASEAN, BASF says there is a growing need for local innovation in coatings solutions and products, as well as a high degree of technical service.

“With our robust capabilities in Thailand, we meet the increasing demand for sustainable and eco-efficient solutions,” said Peter Fischer, Senior Vice President, Coatings Solutions Asia Pacific, BASF. “Working closely with our automotive customers globally and regionally, we are committed to be the partner of choice and drive for growth and success in the highly competitive ASEAN market.”

The new production plant in Bangpoo complements the facilities at the Coatings Technical Competence Center ASEAN, which opened in September 2015 at the same location. The technical centre includes a laboratory for product development, high performance application facilities and colour design, as well as a small batch production unit.

“BASF has been active in ASEAN for over 50 years with a strong footprint in Thailand,” added Andrea Frenzel, President South & East Asia, ASEAN & ANZ, BASF. “With our new automotive coatings plant, we aim to help Thailand strengthen its role as a key market and production hub for the automotive industry in ASEAN, and to support the economic development of the neighbouring countries.”

Thatcham Research Passes Parts Certification To TUV Rheinland AG

Following an in-depth review and assessment of the certification of after-market car parts, and consultation with its Insurance Members, Thatcham Research has decided to hand over all after-market parts certification activities to its current partner TÜV Rheinland AG.

The Thatcham Research/TÜV Rheinland partnership will officially end on 31st March 2018, with Thatcham Research not providing any new after-market parts certification services as of 1 January 2018.

The move allows Thatcham Research to invest more resources into the priority areas of active safety systems and vehicle structures/materials, that are increasingly contributing to repair costs. In parallel, the company is also gearing-up its investment in countering the growing risk of cyber theft of vehicles.

Peter Shaw, chief executive of Thatcham Research comments: “A healthy after-market parts supply is vitally important for the UK repair industry. However, we need to make key strategic decisions to ensure that we are addressing current and evolving challenges for the repair and insurance industries. This move will allow us to achieve this, while at the same time handing over the certification of aftermarket parts to a trusted and qualified partner to ensure consistency now and in the future.”

Massimo Bianchi, Business Stream Manager Mobility TÜV Rheinland Italy, comments: “We believe that certification of equivalent parts is very important to answer the need of the market of high quality spare replacement parts. Voluntary independent certification of products is one of TÜV Rheinland’s core businesses and increases the trust in customers.”

The transition steps will be:

  • TÜV Rheinland will take over all new parts certification operations from 1st January 2018.
  • There will be a gradual removal of the Thatcham Research brand from certified parts.
  • Newly certified parts will carry the sole TÜV Rheinland brand from 1st April 2018.
  • As parts certification remain valid for two years, joint Thatcham Research / TÜV Rheinland branding will remain on certificates issued or renewed before 1 April 2018, until the date they expire

Together Thatcham Research and TÜV Rheinland have provided aftermarket certification services for the past nine years, and there are more than 1800 parts certified under the scheme.

Help Improve The Quality Of Training In Australia’s Automotive Sector

PwC’s Skills for Australia is working on an exciting project to help better prepare learners to become vehicle body repair estimators, and they are looking for industry feedback to contribute to their work.

Following months of consultation, Skills for Australia has developed draft training products aimed to address skills gaps in existing training for vehicle body repair estimators. Now members of the public have been invited to review these products and provide their feedback.

To contribute to this project, simply visit the Skills for Australia  website and download the draft training products. Then email your comments to info@skillsforaustralia.com or arrange a time to speak with a member of the team.

Feedback on the draft training products in the scope of this project will be open until Thursday 21 December 2017.

PwC’s Skills for Australia operates as a Skills Service Organisation, and is responsible for the vocational qualifications and training packages in the automotive industry.

Working with Industry Reference Committees made up of members with experience and expertise covering the entire Australian automotive industry, Skills for Australia’s role is to ensure that training packages reflect the needs of employers and students.

The Training Packages that cover the automotive sector include:

If you are interested in the work PwC’s Skills for Australia is doing, and would like to be kept up to date on new projects in your area of expertise, you can follow them on LinkedIn or subscribe to their mailing list.

LKQ Corporation Announces Agreement To Acquire Stahlgruber GmbH

LKQ Corporation has signed an agreement to acquire Stahlgruber GmbH for approximately €1.5 billion (A$2.35b). Headquartered in Germany, Stahlgruber is a leading European wholesale distributor of aftermarket spare parts for passenger cars, tools, capital equipment and accessories with operations in Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia with further sales to Switzerland. Stahlgruber’s facilities include 228 sales centres, six warehouses, and an approximately 128,000 square metre advanced logistics centre that is strategically located in Germany, serving more than 100,000 professional clients and offering over 500,000 SKUs.

LKQ expects to complete the transaction late in the first quarter or early in the second quarter of 2018, subject to required regulatory approvals.

“This transformative acquisition solidifies LKQ as a leading Pan-European aftermarket mechanical parts distributor, and further enhances our global diversification strategy,” stated Dominick Zarcone, President and Chief Executive Officer of LKQ Corporation. “Stahlgruber has a history of delivering above-market growth and its stellar industry reputation is an ideal fit with our culture; we are extremely proud to welcome the approximately 6600 Stahlgruber employees to the LKQ family. Importantly, we believe that our combined efforts will create tremendous long-term value for our customers and stockholders and growth opportunities for our collective team members.”