AAAA Welcomes COVID-19 Stimulus Programmes

The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) has congratulated the government for its stimulus and financial support package for COVID-19, designed to support all businesses in the automotive supply chain.

“These payments are going to make a remarkable difference to our industry,” said Stuart Charity, CEO of the AAAA. “We have modelled these programmes to simulate the benefit for our members and for many, it’s going to mean the difference between surviving this crisis and shutting the doors permanently.”

The AAAA says it performed analysis which shows that for an average automotive workshop of five to six people, the stimulus packages are going to deliver real benefits to the bottom line.

“These packages are designed around keeping employees, which is something every one of our parts manufacturers, vehicle modifiers, auto workshops, parts suppliers and parts retailers want to do,” said Charity.

The AAAA has promoted all the announced packages after simulating what the programmes may mean and how easy it is to apply. The programmes that are receiving the greatest interest from the automotive industry include the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers measure, which can deliver a maximum of $100,000 to small to medium businesses, apprenticeship and trainee programmes that can provide up to $21,000, and the new JobKeeper payment programme which can provide $1500 per employee per fortnight for six months.

“The challenge for us as an industry association is, firstly, to encourage our members that are not normally recipients of grants and incentives to factor this funding into their thinking about whether their business will survive, and secondly, to ensure that they register or apply for these programmes,” said Charity.

The Boosting Cash Flow for Employers programme will occur automatically, but other programmes require a registration process and AAAA says its efforts are currently dedicated to getting the message out that the stimulus packages are real and that they can make the difference between survival and collapse of the business.

“For our workshops and our retailers, these programmes are unique,” said Charity. “We are getting that message out because previous economic stimulus programmes require business to make an upfront investment and the government rewards that investment with funds or with accelerated depreciation/instant right off. These programmes simply require that our companies keep their employees engaged, something we are happy to do and want to do.

“We know from our experience of the global financial crisis that this makes a difference. Immediately after the GFC, the businesses that maintained a relationship with their employees recovered quicker and were more sustainable in the long run.

“We are hearing some confusion from customers that think we are closed – we are certainly not closed and our sector will remain open, provided we meet all of the required precautions until we are instructed by [the] government to close. We are maintaining very regular communication with [the] government to ensure that we know when and what advice to give to our members. The message so far is simple – establish the required precautions, minimise physical contact and remain open for business to support the community in this difficult time.

“Many households are now very reliant on essential support services from local government and close family members to deliver food and other supplies. We are a critical service to ensure that these cars can stay on the road safely and we are continuing to deliver emergency repairs and critical maintenance services. We do understand that some in the community may think that their regular service can be delayed, but please don’t make that decision on your own – call your workshop and find out if your next service includes critical components. Similarly, we can’t afford for any vehicle to run low on oil. If you are worried about taking time for a full service, see if you can at least call in and have the oil topped up. You will do irreparable damage to your car if you ignore any warning lights on your dash. In the first instance, call your mechanic – they are happy to talk through what your options are.”

According to the AAAA, the automotive maintenance and repair sector is adapting and surviving. Some workshops have chosen to close, but the association’s assessment is that less than two per cent of workshops have done so. The AAAA says most automotive repairers have put special measures in place including contactless service, such as key drops that do not require human-to-human contact. Similarly, new processes have been put in place in which the internal surfaces of the vehicle and the external entry points are all sanitised prior to returning the vehicles.

“Our members make sure that the car is sanitised before it is returned to the customer – the steering wheel, doors, dash, gear stick – basically every surface is sanitised and the car is certainly safer than when it was dropped off to us,” said Charity.

The AAAA says everyone is adapting as best as they can, and many are offering quicker essential safety checks and sanitising as a free service.

“We have a remarkably agile and innovative sector,” said Charity. “Our members are responding by delivering services differently or delivering new services that speak directly to our customers’ concerns about safety, reducing any risk of contracting the virus and having a safe, reliable means of transport to keep the household running and to look after vulnerable members of our community. We will keep doing this for as long as we possibly can.”

Camden Crash & Restorations Awarded I-CAR Gold Class

I-CAR Australia has announced that Camden Crash & Restorations in Smeaton Grange, New South Wales, has received I-CAR Gold Class status.

“Camden Crash & Restorations are very proud to have achieved the I-CAR Gold Class accreditation,” said Jason Spiteri, Business Manager at Camden Crash & Restorations. “Our team have worked very hard and have found the programme to be very interesting. Combined with our experience in the industry and ongoing training, our team will now be equipped and have the skills to keep up-to-date with the motor vehicle repairs to manufacturer standards. We would like to thank I-CAR Australia and their team for making the training programme.”

“Jason and the team at Camden Crash & Restorations contacted us at the beginning of 2019 to express their interest in joining the Road to Gold programme,” said Gary Wood, Gold Class Coordinator at I-CAR Australia. “After developing a training programme for them, they have been regular participants in online virtual training and have had all their panel staff successfully complete the I-CAR Welding Certification, which is a great achievement.

“Jason worked closely with Glasurit, a member of the I-CAR Industry Training Alliance, to arrange product specific training for their refinish staff which contributed towards their training programme. It has been a great effort by everyone concerned, highlighted by five staff members now holding Platinum Individual status. Well done from everyone at I-CAR.”

Geoff Richards Panel Beating Receives I-CAR Gold Class

I-CAR Australia has announced that Geoff Richards Panel Beating in Dubbo, New South Wales, has achieved I-CAR Gold Class status.

“We pride ourselves on being the panel industry leader in the region and continue to raise the bar and be the first in many areas,” said Tracey Ricards, joint owner of Geoff Richards Panel Beating. “In 2018 we were awarded the MTA Green Stamp Accreditation for our environmental management and we are now thrilled to be awarded the prestigious I-CAR Gold Class Collision status.

“Irrespective of being located in the country, we want all 19 of our staff to have the opportunity to be their best and have access to the best training available worldwide, which is why we joined I-CAR. As a business, I-CAR Gold Class Collision status is not only a reflection of our monetary investment, but our staff’s personal commitment to completing over a thousand hours of training in their own time.

“The I-CAR team made the whole process seamless and are true professionals who genuinely care about the future of the panel industry.”

“It’s fantastic to see Geoff Richards Panel Beating achieve Gold Class status,” said Gary Wood, Gold Class Coordinator at I-CAR Australia. “Their attitude and dedication towards training since joining the programme has been first class. They have proven that location isn’t a barrier when it comes to professional development for their team, and participation in online virtual training allowed them to complete the role-relevant training required for the Gold Class accreditation. Geoff Richards [Panel Beating’s] commitment to ongoing training will ensure safety and quality for all their customers. Well done from everyone at I-CAR.”

All Auto Recalls: COVID-19 Raises Risk Of Using Unsafe Parts

All Auto Recalls (AAR) says that as COVID-19 shuts down vehicle parts manufacturing plants, demand for Recycled Original Equipment (ROE) vehicle parts will grow rapidly. As a result of faulty manufacture, some of these parts may be under active recall, creating a heightened risk of dangerous and potentially fatal recalled parts being fitted to cars.

The company says the law demands that faulty car parts are recalled, but the recall system appears to be flawed and does not always protect drivers.

AAR Managing Director, Chris Daglis, says Australians need to be aware of the increased risk and learn how to protect themselves. According to Daglis, the most important question every driver should ask of their repairer, insurer or seller of parts is: Do you know if a part is safe, not subject to recall and can be traced to my vehicle should it be recalled in the future?

“It’s not something many of us would give a second thought to,” said Daglis. “You have been in a collision, or your car is due for routine repairs and maintenance and we pass our vehicle over into the hands of our local mechanic or insurer. Once our car is returned, repaired and ready to drive, how many of us would question where the parts had been sourced and if they were safe? How would we know if one such part was in fact a dangerous part on the recall register? And how would we know if it were to be recalled in the future – could the part be traced to us and our vehicle?”

According to Daglis, ROE parts for collision repair have traditionally made up around five per cent of all parts used in Australia. However, with unprecedented demand following the outbreak of COVID-19, experts expect demand to rise dramatically, possibly beyond 20 per cent.

AAR says vehicle owners need to know that used parts fitted to their vehicle during repair were sourced from licensed automotive recyclers who have a lawful and robust recall process in place. The process must cover the life of the car to ensure traceability when the vehicle is sold. Daglis said this applies to all parts recyclers, including online operators.

“The recalls process is often overlooked by online sellers. It took me a short time to find over 70 unsafe, recalled Takata airbags available for sale in the online marketplaces. If I kept looking, I am sure that I would have found hundreds more. Online sellers must know if the items being placed online for sale are subject to an active recall, and they must have a recall process in place as part of their business process. Regardless of whether you are taking your vehicle to a mechanic, your insurer is fixing it, or you are a car enthusiast purchasing your own parts, knowing this could save your life,” explained Daglis.

“It is critical for mechanics, collision repairers, insurers and any on-seller of parts to have a recall checking capability so that they can alert their customer to a safety problem on their vehicle. Sometimes these recalls are critical; they are death traps. In the Takata airbag scenario, we are talking about some airbags being in vehicles that are now 24 years old, yet they were only recalled three months ago. The product safety website offers the automotive industry a static database that they can check against for recalls, or they can use the All Auto Recalls system which is dynamic, live and offers the ‘Auto Alert’ function. This will alert the mechanic if any of the vehicles they have entered into the system have a recall against them at any time in the future. Remember, a vehicle may be clear today, but recalled at some time in the future.”

AAR says the automotive recycling industry will play an increasingly important role in the parts supply chain in future, adding that ROE parts supplied by professional automotive recyclers that manage recalls effectively are critical to the long-term sustainability of the automotive repair and insurance industry.

Statistics provided by AAR reveal:

  • Recycled parts usage by country: Australia over five per cent, New Zealand 40 per cent, the USA 11 per cent and the UK two per cent.
  • Manufacturers recalled 29.3 million vehicles in 2018, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data
  • Between 2014 and 2016, the number of vehicles affected by recalls spiked, reaching 50.5 million in 2016
  • There are in excess of 1.5 million insurance claims each year in Australia, with parts making up around 50 per cent of a vehicle’s repair cost
  • More than one million vehicles are repaired due to road accidents every year, with more going to mechanics for routine repairs

Axalta Global Automotive Color Popularity Report 2019

Released in November last year, Axalta’s Global Automotive Color Popularity Report 2019 revealed that grey was the most popular colour for new cars in Europe. With 24 per cent of the market, grey narrowly edged out white on the old continent (23 per cent), but white remained the world’s most popular colour. The third most popular choice in Europe was black, and Axalta says that together, these three colours have a two-thirds market share. Silver has a 10 per cent market share while the leading “bright” colours are blue with 10 per cent, and red with six per cent.

Elke Dirks, Automotive OEM Colour Designer for Axalta in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said the rise of grey came as no surprise. “Grey stands for practicality and professionalism, style and elegance,” said Dirks. “A grey car signals that the driver does not need to draw attention to themselves with a bright colour. Thanks to new pigments and effects, the previously rather inconspicuous colour is now often very stylish. It takes around two years to completely develop a new colour, so we have to recognise tomorrow’s colour trends today.”

Axalta says the OEM colouristic team evaluates a wide variety of indicators. In addition to analysing colour statistics as well as customer and model-related properties, they look at fashion and “zeitgeist” (the defining spirit or mood of a period of history). “Trends in clothing, furniture and accessories, even articles in magazines – everything can provide clues,” said Dirks.

Not every shade that Dirks and her colleague Christiane Luedecke develop makes it onto a car. Sometimes a colour fails due to production-related reasons, and sometimes it is because of the development of a repair formula. “The paint development for a car manufacturer does not only include the production paint, but also the right repair paint, because at some point body shops must be able to repair paint damage perfectly,” explained Harald Kloeckner, Head of Standox Training EMEA.

During the colour development process, Standox (an Axalta brand) is in regular contact with its OEM paint colleagues. “This co-operation makes the development of suitable repair formulas and paints easier,” added Kloeckner.

According to Standox, close coordination with OEMs is not a matter of course as some production paint manufacturers are not active in the refinish area, and vice versa.

Standox says the development of a paint repair formula is a lengthy and time-consuming procedure that includes microscopic analysis to identify pigments, the calculation of mixing formulas and the creation of spray patterns by robotics to obtain a neutral spray pattern. The results obtained are checked and refined.

Standox develops around 60 new mixing formulas every week and deploys them via its online colour software Standowin iQ. “It is a lot of effort, but we know we can ensure that our partners always achieve the best possible results,” said Kloeckner.

VACC: Auto Businesses In VIC Remain Open

Automotive businesses across Victoria remain open currently, performing services that are keeping motorists and business operators moving.

The Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC), which represents many of the state’s automotive businesses, says its members support essential services and are therefore essential themselves.

“Emergency services such as ambulance, police and fire crews absolutely require vehicles in which to perform their duties,” said Geoff Gwilym, CEO of the VACC. “Along with this are trucks hauling groceries and medical supplies to supermarkets, pharmacies and hospitals. This needs to keep occurring, and the automotive businesses that sell, maintain and service these vehicles need to remain open.

“If the automotive industry were to shut down, so too would many of the critical services that people rely on for health and safety, and the basics of life like food and medicine.”

The VACC says that it, along with many other organisations, also recognise that federal and state governments need to make tough decisions and are supporting their calls.

“VACC supports the recent decisions of government, but [Victorian] Premier [Daniel] Andrews has not yet stipulated what an essential service actually is,” said Gwilym. “Rather, he has outlined businesses and organisations that are currently classified non-essential. Automotive businesses such as workshops, body repair businesses and dealerships are performing essential services that organisations and the public rely upon. VACC asks that Premier Andrews acknowledge automotive as an essential service.”

I-CAR AU Indicates Policy Amid Coronavirus

I-CAR Australia has confirmed its position on its training programmes as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread throughout Australia and globally.

The new policy was communicated in a letter personally addressed to I-CAR members by Mark Czvitkovits, CEO of I-CAR Australia.

According to the letter, all face-to-face training programmes have been postponed until further notice since yesterday. The programmes affected include welding certifications, live classroom and OEM specific training. Until the complete picture of the spread of this disease is fully understood, I-CAR said it will adhere to Australian government guidelines.

I-CAR said that no new events will be scheduled until the current situation is under control and the guidelines in place around the COVID-19 impact are reduced, but it will continue offering training courses in both the virtual and online training platforms to allow businesses to fulfill their training programme requirements, including attaining or renewing Gold Class or AMBRA accreditation.

To ensure ongoing training needs can be met, I-CAR will continually update and introduce more new online courses as well as rescheduling more virtual training dates so businesses are not unduly affected. There are over 35 virtual classroom programmes and more than 22 online programmes that allow for training when and where needed.

Autocare 2020 Convention Postponed

The AAAA said it had decided to postpone the Autocare 2020 convention due to the escalation of the coronavirus health crisis. The AAAA said its board of directors held a meeting to consider all options but decided that postponing was the safest measure it could take.

Autocare 2020 was scheduled to be held at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre from 19-20 June 2020, but will now be held from 30-31 October 2020 at the same location. All conference stream registrations, exhibitor and sponsorship commitments will roll over to the new Autocare 2020 dates.

The AAAA says it acknowledges the significant commitment by speakers, sponsors and exhibitors who share its appreciation for their patience as Autocare 2020 arrangements change to meet the new dates. The company says that more information about the event will be shared through the Autocare website found here, AAAA member electronic newsletter and the Australian Automotive Aftermarket magazine in the coming weeks and months.

AAAA Celebrates 40 Years Serving the Automotive Aftermarket

The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) is celebrating its 40th anniversary as part of the automotive aftermarket industry.

As the only independent, national, member-owned organisation representing the Australian automotive aftermarket, the AAAA has had a wide-reaching and definitive impact on the industry, its members and customers.

The association was founded in 1980 by a group of businesses that became concerned with regulatory developments in Australia and their impact on the automotive aftermarket, choosing to come together as the ‘Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association’ to better the industry. The body was set up as a not-for-profit organisation, operating under the direction of an executive director and board of respected industry representatives.

“This year is a special milestone for the AAAA and one we are very proud of,” said Stuart Charity, CEO of the AAAA. “For 40 years and through the support of our members, we have acted in the best interests of the industry and continuously affected positive change. As an association, we can hold our head high and be proud of our achievements.”

From beginnings under the leadership of founding Executive Director and President Graham Rose, the industry has seen huge changes across four decades. The AAAA said it has championed and positively resolved many issues facing the industry.

Legalising extractors, eye level brake lights and trolley jacks were some of the first major undertakings of the AAAA in those formative years. Through the 1980s and into the 1990s, the introduction of fuel injection and rise of Japanese and European vehicles required market adaption and regulatory support. In more recent times, the 4WD modification market and performance scenes have generated growth in the industry, and at the same time, created their own set of challenges and opportunities.

The AAAA has also long championed one of the aftermarket industry’s largest issues in recent times – mandatory data sharing. The association felt vindicated when the Australian government officially announced that it would become law last year – a milestone moment for the AAAA.

“Although we are proud of the past and have learned some important lessons over the course of 40 years, the AAAA continues to look forward,” said Charity. “As time has marched on, the AAAA has grown and evolved as an organisation. The world today is more complex and fast paced, and we have to continually adapt to ensure we have the strength, knowledge and resources to effectively represent our members, their customers and the broader industry.

“The automotive aftermarket can be assured we will continue to be here for them, in their corner, as we always have been. We look forward to collaborating with members to help them be prepared for what the future holds,” said Charity.

Toyota Blocks Counterfeit Car Part Supplier

Toyota said it has stopped a major Australian vehicle body part and panel supplier from importing, advertising and selling counterfeit grilles.

The carmaker said the grilles do not meet durability or quality standards, being constructed with inferior techniques and materials, saying they are likely to fail prematurely in Australian driving conditions. As a result, the sale of them is a breach of Australian law.

Since being investigated, Toyota said SSS Auto Parts, the infringing supplier, has withdrawn the counterfeit grilles from sale, offered a refund to purchasers and forfeited remaining stock.

Fabiola Dos Santos, Toyota Australia’s Brand Protection Manager, said consumers could have been misled into believing the grilles were genuine as they illegally bear Toyota’s trademarks. Dos Santos said SSS Auto Parts had also breached Toyota’s copyright through the unlicensed use of Toyota-owned images on its website.

“Toyota will act decisively whenever counterfeit parts are being sold to Australian consumers,” said Dos Santos. “We devote significant financial, technical and human resources to develop genuine parts and accessories that offer optimal performance, durability and safety benefits to customers.

“Our grilles are designed, engineered and tested to allow sufficient air flow to the radiator, protecting the engine from overheating. They are manufactured to Toyota’s stringent quality and durability standards, an assurance that cannot be offered by anyone selling counterfeit parts.

“Some people mistakenly think that buying counterfeit auto parts is harmless and a simple way to get components at a lower price. But the impact can be far worse than people realise as there is zero testing, no legal regulation and very little recourse for consumers if the part is ineffective or unsafe.”

Dos Santos said Toyota is working with the Australian Border Force to identify and seize counterfeit parts due to the growing number entering the Australian market.

“Consumers should not assume they are buying a genuine part, even if it comes in a branded box or has a Toyota label. The best way to avoid purchasing a counterfeit item is to buy Toyota genuine parts and accessories directly from an authorised Toyota dealer.”