Axalta Opens World’s Largest R&D Centre Dedicated To Coatings and Colour

Axalta has officially opened its Global Innovation Center, the largest coatings research and development centre in the world, with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

The company says the 16,260 square metre Global Innovation Center offers unparalleled specialty labs along with office space. Its location in Philadelphia’s Navy Yard enables collaboration amongst Axalta employees, business partners, and customers throughout the Philadelphia area and beyond.

“Axalta’s Global Innovation Center will become the central hub for our global research, product development, and technology initiatives where we develop and deliver the most innovative coatings products in the world,” said Robert Bryant, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Axalta. “Whether in colour technology, polymer and formulation chemistry, or application knowledge, the world-class capabilities and talent at Axalta’s Global Innovation Center will fuel new products and deliver the solutions that our customers want to grow their businesses into the future.”

Axalta says the Navy Yard location offers an attractive workplace for new talent, and the new campus was built with researchers in mind, modelling an academic setting with a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces to foster teamwork and creativity.

“Axalta’s team of scientists and technicians at the Global Innovation Center will develop next generation coatings products and keep pace with emerging application needs,” said Barry Snyder, Axalta’s Chief Technology Officer. “Regulations and customer demands call for newer technologically advanced coatings. The increasing use of light-weight plastic and composite materials in vehicles to save fuel require new coatings formulations. Developing products to suit these and other needs will be the mission of the Global Innovation Center and Axalta’s worldwide research and development network.”

After the public ribbon cutting ceremony, Axalta hosted more than 100 customers for a first look of the Global Innovation Center with tours of the facility.

Queensland Vehicles With Faulty Airbags To Have Registration Cancelled

Queensland vehicle owners who have not had their recalled airbags replaced will have their registrations cancelled by the state’s Department of Transport and Main Roads.

A report is currently being compiled by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) listing the registration numbers of cars that have not had the airbags replaced.

The airbags are said to be at added risk in Queensland as they can explode if exposed to high levels of moisture, especially in hot and humid conditions.

In a statement the department said: “TMR will take action against the registration of vehicles with high risk ‘alpha’ airbags once the ACCC provides details of vehicles where manufacturers have fulfilled their customer contact obligations under the mandatory recall process, but the airbag remains unreplaced.

“If a member of the community receives a defect notice, we strongly recommend they contact their local dealer/manufacturer immediately to have the vehicle repaired.

“Failure to comply with the defect notice may result in cancellation of registration for the vehicle.”

Vehicle owners on the list will be issued defect notices and have 21 days to have the recalled airbag replaced. The department will cancel the registrations of vehicle owners who fail to comply with the notice. The remaining portion of a cancelled registration fee will be refunded.

“5100 Vehicles Affected By Takata Airbag Recall Rectified Each Working Day”: FCAI

Australians have checked the status of more than 4.55 million vehicles on the automotive industry’s Takata Airbag recall website  www.ismyairbagsafe.com.au since it was launched in late July 2018.

Since the Takata Airbag recall has become mandatory, the FCAI’s data shows that over 330,000 vehicles have been rectified in the three months to 1 October 2018. This equates to more than 5100 every working day.

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) Chief Executive Tony Weber said the website had been able to advise over 663,000 motorists that their vehicle was affected by the Takata Airbag recall.

The website launch complements a national advertising campaign including television, radio, print and social media. This campaign communicates the message “Don’t die wondering” and is coordinated by the FCAI on behalf of the vehicle brands involved in the recall.

“This is a tremendous response rate to the campaign,” Weber said. “We are getting the message across to Australian motorists, but we have much more still to do. We are determined to reach out to vehicle owners throughout Australia as we strive to identify the owners of all vehicles affected by this recall.”

The FCAI says its website and campaign, as part of the Australian government’s mandatory recall, builds on the strong results already achieved through voluntary recalls by individual vehicle brands, with the body and its members actively cooperating with the Australian government’s mandatory recall.

The website and the “Don’t die wondering” advertising campaign has further raised awareness and simplified the process of checking individual vehicle status.

”The priority that the industry places on safety is reflected in our extensive national advertising campaign, and the fact that we are replacing, on average, over 5,000 affected airbags every working day,” said Weber. “We implore all vehicle owners to urgently check the status of their vehicle. It is very easy – simply go to the website and enter your vehicle’s registration plate number and state or territory. If your vehicle is affected, you can make arrangements with your brand’s local dealer to have the faulty airbag replaced.”

AAAA Innovation Labs Supporting The Future Growth Of Australian Automotive Manufacturing

The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) has announced the establishment of two automotive Innovation Labs based in Victoria and South Australia.

Co-funded by federal and Victorian government industry development grants, the operation of these new Innovation Labs will be led by the AAAA, with the association saying they will provide Australian automotive product designers, manufacturers and start-ups with the tools, technology, vehicles, expertise and collaborative environment required to innovate, design, test and manufacture for local and export markets.

Advanced manufacturing services including 3D scanning and printing, measuring sessions, technology transfer, Computer Aided Design and prototyping will be provided. Advanced product development and testing facilities will significantly reduce the time and cost in developing innovative new products for local and global markets.

According to AAAA Chief Executive Officer, Stuart Charity, the establishment of these Innovation Labs will grow an industry that is already punching well above its weight on the global stage.

“Australian automotive aftermarket industry manufacturers are currently producing parts, components and technology worth more than five billion dollars each year.

“Our companies are world leaders in the design and manufacture of specialty products with a technological advantage such as 4WD, high performance and motorsport components. These products are purchased on innovation, performance and features rather than on price. Our businesses have been successful because they have made significant investments in R&D and capital equipment and have a strong export focus.

“Establishing this collaborative infrastructure will position our industry for future domestic and export market growth by providing the innovators of the industry with the leading-edge technology and expertise needed to take Australian automotive industry innovations to the world, regardless of how large or small their businesses are.”

The AAAA has appointed automotive industry engineering specialist Luke Truskinger to the role of Innovation Lab Project Manager. Along with his Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering, the AAAA says Truskinger brings extensive local and international OEM experience to this new role and a history of supporting the Innovation Lab project, understanding the critical role that the labs will play to support the future growth of Australia’s automotive manufacturing industry.

The AAAA says it will be engaging in extensive discussions with Australia’s automotive parts and accessories industry to build on the significant work already undertaken as part of the Innovation Lab feasibility study. The next few months of the establishment phase will ensure that the equipment and services offered by the Australian Innovation Labs are closely aligned with the current and future needs of the Australian automotive manufacturing industry.

“We look forward to inviting automotive manufacturers to take advantage of the services and facilities that our Innovation Labs will offer to assist in taking their products from concept to domestic and global market success,” said Charity.

To find out more or to register your interest in the Automotive Innovation Labs, contact AAAA Innovation Lab Project Manager Luke Truskinger – [email protected].

Alfa Romeo Spider Wins ‘Best In Show’ At Motorclassica 2018

A 1932 Alfa Romeo 6C GS Spider was named Best in Show at the 2018 Australian International Concours d’Elegance at Motorclassica.

Owned by Lawrence Southward, the car was judged best amongst the many class winners in the hotly-contested competition, which was held last weekend at Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building,

“Lawrence Southward’s Alfa Romeo 6C Spider is truly a world-class car and a very worthy winner of the ‘best of the best’ award,” said Motorclassica Event Director, Paul Mathers.

“Every year the standard of our Concours entrants keeps getting higher and making the judging that much more difficult, the panel is literally having to make judgements on the most minute of detail.

“It’s fantastic to see this evolution and to share the passion of the owners with our Motorclassica audience.”

Originally owned by English jazz musician and racer, Bubby Featherstonehaugh, the Alfa Romeo resided in the UK for many years before making the trip to New Zealand. It then began a lengthy restoration that was started by Lawrence’s father and sister 16 years ago, both of whom passed away during the process. The vehicle was finished earlier this year after it was entrusted to the team at Bristol Motors in New Zealand.

With aluminium bodywork by legendary Italian designer Zagato, the car is powered by a supercharged 1762cc in-line six-cylinder engine.

While the car was judged winner of the Concours, the highest accolade by the independent judging panel, the 24,000 visitors to Motorclassica 2018 chose the 1969 Holden Monaro GTS owned by Sam Santoro as the People’s Choice award winner.

Restoration of the Year was won by the 1969 Maserati Ghibli Spyder of Barry Edge, which was restored by Re-creation Automotive.

The 10th Motorclassica will be staged at the Royal Exhibition Building on 11-13 October 2019.

Matrix Electronic Measuring Appoints Travis Young As President

Matrix Electronic Measuring Inc, inventors of the Matrix Wand 3D Measuring System, announced the promotion of Travis Young to President. Previously, Young served as the company’s Vice President of Business Development.

“Travis has a proven track record of leadership and business success throughout his career,” said Jan Srack, CEO and co-founder of the company. “During his tenure as Vice President, he injected a new and exciting energy into the company and it has delivered great results for our customers and employees.”

Prior to Matrix, Young was based in the United Kingdom and served as vice president of global business development for an industrial equipment manufacturer.

Valspar Announces Competition Winner of Ultimate Las Vegas Experience

Alex Townsend, of Coastal Collision Repair in Maroochydore, has won Valspar Automotive’s Ultimate Las Vegas Experience competition.

Townsend won a prize pack that included return flights for two people to Las Vegas, seven nights’ accommodation, two tickets to an automotive show and $1000 spending money. In total, the prize pack is valued at more than $6000.

The competition called for entrants to answer questions showcasing the Valspar Automotive line of products. Entrants were provided with many opportunities to enter with new questions being released weekly. Valspar said the promotion had a strong response with numerous entries submitted each week.

Insurers Reject Royal Commission Claims Of Misconduct

Some of Australia’s leading general insurers have rejected allegations of misconduct following examination of their behaviour during the Hayne royal commission’s sixth round of hearings.

Suncorp-owned AAI, which offers insurance under several brands including AAMI, denied the suggestion it had sold misleading policies, while Allianz rejected the commission’s findings of poor culture affecting compliance.

Insurance Australia Group accepted it engaged in conduct that fell below community standards but rejected counsel assisting’s findings that its behaviour constituted misconduct.

Youi also rejected claims made against it, saying counsel assisting Rowena Orr QC failed to prove the case studies were attributable to its particular cultural and governance practices. The company said council assisting sought to portray Youi in the worst possible light and urged the commissioner to reject the findings.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission, under fire for failing to take appropriate action against insurers over issues raised during the hearings, said politicians are to blame.

“The insurance sector has been exempted from a range of laws which have seen ASIC’s ability to review the sector severely limited,” ASIC senior executive and former long-time head of the regulator’s insurance team, Greg Kirk, told the Australian Financial Review.”

Federal Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, said he would look to introduce remediation power to help improve compensation outcomes for affected customers.

Office of Future Transport Technologies Revealed

The Australian Federal Government is establishing the Office of Future Transport Technologies to help prepare for the “pending arrival of automated vehicles and other transport innovations”.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, said the initiative was made possible through $9.7 million investment by the government.

In an address to a Roads Australia event held in Sydney, McCormack said Australian governments and industry needed to collaborate effectively in order to develop the right policy, regulation and infrastructure, to adapt to future technology use.

“Getting Australians home sooner and safer is a core focus of our government and the emergence of automated vehicles represents a significant opportunity to realise safety and productivity benefits while supporting Australian industry and innovation,” he said.

“While representing an emerging business opportunity for the national economy, these technologies also have great potential to reduce the $27 billion cost of road crashes in Australia each year. These advances can also help to reduce the significant social impacts that road deaths and injuries have on families and the wider community.”

McCormack said he wanted to ensure these new technologies are deployed in a manner which improves safety, productivity, accessibility and liveability for Australians in both urban and regional areas.

“The establishment of [the] Office of Future Transport Technologies within my department will enable the Australian Government to work with industry, and state and territory governments to ensure Australia is ready for the challenges and opportunities ahead,” he said.

“I expect the Office to collaborate across governments to ensure automated vehicles are safe, to consider future infrastructure needs, to make sure cyber security safeguards are in place, and to support Australian businesses in taking advantage of new commercial opportunities.

“This new Australian Government $9.7 million investment will ensure the regulatory settings are workable and nationally consistent, that they fit with emerging United Nations regulatory developments and are consistent with related Commonwealth policies and laws, including those relating to privacy and data use.

“While some of this work has already started, we will see the Office of Future Transport Technologies ramping up over the next few months to coordinate Australia’s responses to the challenges ahead.”

Hayne Royal Commission Interim Report Says Financial Institutions Driven By Greed

The Hayne royal commission has handed down its Interim Report, saying that publicly-condemned behaviour of some companies within the financial services sector was driven by greed and the pursuit of profit.

Commissioner Kenneth Hayne said the commission had to address the question of why companies engaged in such behaviour.

“Too often, the answer seems to be greed – the pursuit of short-term profit at the expense of basic standards of honesty,” he wrote. “How else is charging continuing advice fees to the dead to be explained?”

He added that the commission also had to prevent the behaviour from happening again.

However, rather than recommending new laws, the 1000-page, three volume report says the sector needs better enforcement of the existing laws as well as simplification of those laws.

“Much more often than not, the conduct now condemned was contrary to law. Passing some new law to say, again, ‘Do not do that’, would add an extra layer of legal complexity to an already complex regulatory regime. What would that gain?” the report says.

The report comes after general insurers came under fire during the Hayne Royal Commission, which finished its examinations last month.

While submissions were made in relation to car insurance, insurers did not face questions regarding the body repair industry, though many repairers say alleged misconduct, connected to home and life insurance, also applied to car insurance.

The commission heard of breaches of the law, misconduct, and insurers failing to live up to community expectations. There is also a lack of regulation in the insurance sector compared to other types of financial services.

Multiple insurers are likely to have engaged in misconduct over claims handling, along with breaching their duty to act in utmost good faith, while the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) was criticised for failing to act against members that breached the insurance code of practice.

Commissioner Kenneth Hayne has been asked to consider charges against South African-owned insurer Youi, and Suncorp-owned insurer AAI, which issues 37 home and contents insurance products through 13 different brands, including AAMI.

The commission heard Youi could be open to findings of misconduct over its handling of two customers after their homes were damaged by natural disasters, while Suncorp’s claims and dispute handling processes were considered “so bad they amounted to systemic problems”.

The commissioner asked Suncorp Group’s Insurance Chief Executive, Gary Dransfield, how much money Suncorp saves on building costs because of discounts from builders who are awarded lots of work from the company. Dransfield replied that it is likely a builder’s margin of 14-15 per cent is charged to Suncorp, rather than a builder’s margin of 20 per cent that might apply to retail customers.

Counsel assisting said AAI’s internal culture seemed more concerned with growing its business rather than compliance with the industry code of practice.

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) said it had raised repeated concerns with AAI about claims handling and the information provided to customers about their dispute resolution rights.

The FOS expressed concern that these were systemic problems and if not rectified, could amount to serious misconduct under FOS’s terms of reference. Concern was also expressed that AAI might not have adequate processes to implement FOS determinations in a timely way, while the FOS also identified two other areas with systemic problems at Suncorp.

Dransfield also accepted the potential for insurance company-appointed engineers to be biased in favour of the insurer because they are often reliant on those companies for ongoing work.

Swann Insurance came under fire when Counsel Assisting Mark Costello suggested the commission could find the company engaged in misconduct by giving incentives to authorised representatives to sell as many add-on policies as possible with no regard to the suitability of those products. Costello also told the commission that parent company IAG failed to properly oversee Swann. The company no longer sells add-on insurance products.

It is estimated that Swann would have to remediate around 64,000 customers $37.1 million for mis-sold add-on insurance.

Costello suggested it is open to the commissioner to find that Swann undertook no meaningful review of its products. Despite ASIC concerns, Swann failed to see if its products offered any value to customers. It continued to pay car dealers large commissions to sell products without monitoring the sales practices of its representatives, possibly breaching s912 of the Corporations Act.

Counsel Assisting Rowena Orr said the commission is open to find insurance company Allianz engaged in misconduct via misleading statements published on its website. The failure to report misleading and deceptive conduct to ASIC, and to have a compliance system in place, could also amount to misconduct.

Orr said Allianz’s behaviour, which included seeking to manipulate independent reports, fell below community standards, adding that monitoring and supervision remains an issue for the company. According to Orr, Allianz’s culture fails to consider risk and compliance a priority, while the company responds defensively when challenged.

Another insurer, ClearView, admitted to 303,000 criminal breaches of the law through its use of an aggressive cold-call sales force.

Other insurers were also under pressure when Orr suggested CommInsure’s outdated medical definitions may have fallen short of community standards, as did AMP, which continued to charge insurance premiums to people who had died.

Regarding the ICA, Orr told the commission that the council had not applied any sanctions, despite the code governance committee determining there were 33 breaches and around 31,000 incidents of self-reporting since July 2014.

In response, ICA CEO Rob Whelan said the council only applied sanctions when breaches are not remedied, resolved or corrected.

While acknowledging its limitations, Whelan told the commission the ICA believes in self-regulation and that the code should not form part of consumer contracts.