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.

Cromax Appoints Kevin Torfs New EMEA Brand Manager

Axalta has appointed Kevin Torfs as the Cromax Brand Manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). The announcement coincides with the brand celebrating its fifth year in its incarnation as Cromax.

“At Cromax, we advocate productivity in everything we do,” said Torfs. “We have an esteemed history that dates back nearly 100 years. And, over the last five years, Cromax has gone from strength to strength thanks to the hard work and determination of everyone across the region. I look forward to continuing this momentum, ensuring that Cromax is a brand that drives productivity for its end users at all stages of the paint repair. Our next chapter will be nothing but exciting.”

Torfs has held various roles in Cromax for over 13 years, most recently including Digital Marketing Specialist. He is also a Certified Six Sigma Black Belt for Axalta, the company behind the global refinish brand and a leading global supplier of liquid and powder coatings.

The brand says it is focused on continuing to bring innovative products and services to its body shops, especially energy saving processes which help body shops with their overall energy costs.

“Our attention is also squarely on everything digital,” Torfs explains. “From the most advanced tools and processes to value-adding services, our body shops can achieve improved productivity and optimised workflows.”

Training is another area Torfs is passionate about.

“Continuous professional development is vital, because it doesn’t matter at what stage in their career a refinisher is, our industry is always evolving, so staying on top of new techniques and new products will ensure the best work in the body shop,” he says.

Torfs takes over from Dries Van den Bergh, who moves to a full-time role as Customer Relationship Management Leader for Axalta.

Insurers Under Fire At Hayne Royal Commission

General insurers have come under fire during the Hayne Royal Commission, which finished its examinations last Friday.

The commission heard insurers Allianz and IAG may have engaged in misconduct, while the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) was criticised for failing to act against members that breached the insurance code of practice.

In relation to Allianz, Counsel Assisting Rowena Orr said the commission is open to find the company engaged in misconduct via misleading statements published on its website. The failure to report that 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.

Swann Insurance also came under fire when Counsel Assisting Mark Costello suggested the commission could find the company engaged in misconduct by giving incentives to authorised representatives (ARs) 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.

Regarding the ICA, Orr told the commission 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.

A report containing questions arising will be published on Friday 28 September, with the parties involved able to respond by October 1.

Axalta’s Acquire Quantum EFX Selected As Finalist For 2018 R&D 100 Awards

Axalta announced its Color Retrieval System featuring Acquire Quantum EFX was named a finalist for R&D Magazine’s 2018 R&D 100 Awards, which features the top 100 revolutionary technologies of the past year.

 The Axalta Color Retrieval System is the company’s proprietary online process designed to help customers obtain any colour information needed, quickly and more efficiently than ever before.

“The Axalta Color Retrieval System and the Acquire Quantum EFX are helping to digitize the body shop industry and reduce its reliance on matching colours by their visual appearance,” said Barry Snyder, Senior Vice President, Chief Technology Officer. “The System packs innovative colour technology into a lighter and faster unit to help customers create more accurate and faster colour matches, allowing for more vehicle throughput.

“Axalta is an innovation company and we invest four per cent of sales each year to developing new technologies. The Axalta Color Retrieval System and the Acquire Quantum EFX are new innovations paving the future for a more efficient body shop industry. We’re thrilled and honoured to be named a finalist in the R&D 100 Awards.”

The R&D 100 Awards is an annual awards programme which will be held in mid-November. The programme identifies and celebrates the top 100 revolutionary technologies of the past year. These awards recognise 100 of the top innovations across five categories: Analytical/Test, IT/Electrical, Mechanical Devices/Materials, Process/Prototyping, and Software/Services. The R&D 100 Awards Finalists were selected by an independent panel of more than 50 judges representing R&D leaders in a variety of fields.

Axalta’s Acquire Quantum EFX.

Ezi-Methods Achieves One Million Method Downloads

Auto Industry Consulting has announced that it recently achieved the milestone of one million repair methods downloaded by customers of its Ezi-Methods service.

Ezi-Methods gives repairers the ability to download the repair methods they need to ensure safe and efficient repairs are undertaken and to remain compliant with industry standards.

Over the last four years the number of subscribers has increased rapidly, with customers particularly appreciating the ease of use, reliability and value for money provided. The service is fully MVIRI compliant, and users can access their individual download history to demonstrate compliance at audit time.  The system can be accessed from a desktop, tablet or mobile phone, and as it takes just three clicks to download the correct method, no special training is required.

“We launched Ezi-Methods as a result of there being a significant demand for a repair methods system that is simple, reliable and reasonably priced, said Ben Cardy, Commercial Director of Ezi-Methods owner, Auto Industry Consulting Ltd.

“Providing over one million repair methods to customers since the launch is an incredible achievement for us and is testament to how hard we’ve worked to get here. However, it’s only the first step as we expect to do the second million far quicker than the first!”

Andrew Marsh, Engineering Director, added: “We continue to offer a collision repair centric service covering not only body panel but SRS, seats / seat belts, interior trim, ADAS, four-wheel alignment, steering / suspension / brakes as well as front end cooling pack. It is this that sets us apart and gives our clients the edge in the repair process. We thank all of our clients who have been with us so far, and look forward to serving the industry for many years to come.”

The lucky customer who downloaded the one millionth method was Paul Wood, Vehicle Damage Assessor at The ARC Group in Chippenham, UK. Presented with a bottle of champagne and an Ezi-Methods shirt customised with his name and the words “Millionth Method Man”, he commented: “Thanks loads to Ezi-Methods – not only for this excellent bottle, but for making our lives easier in the office here. It really is a great system to use, quick and simple, with everything you need instantly accessible. The guys on the helpdesk are super responsive and will get you anything you need ASAP.”

For more information on Ezi-Methods, visit www.ezimethods.com.au.

Automechanika Frankfurt Kicks Off 25th Edition With New Records

Automechanika Frankfurt 2018 has opened its doors with more than 5000 exhibitors showing off their wares across the 12 halls of the Frankfurt Messe. The fair brings together the many trends, large and small, of the automotive aftermarket and collision repair industry, opening this year to an array of innovations in the fields of equipment, parts, accessories, management and services.

Detlef Braun, Member of the Executive Board of Messe Frankfurt, said: “Growth in the automotive aftermarket continues unabated; this is shown by a renewed participation in a record number of exhibitors for the 25th edition. This year we also expect guests from over 170 countries. They will be focusing on technological progress, knowledge transfer and forging new alliances.”

The best of the best entries for the Automechanika Innovation Awards were honoured at a presentation ceremony on the first day in the Forum, with 10 winners in three categories chosen from a total of 120 entries (58 nominees and 36 finalists along with the 10 winners). The jury of eight experts was made up of representatives of the industry, trade, associations, science and media, with judging criteria being innovative content, solution excellence, functionality, aftermarket relevance, safety, security, quality, contribution to environmental protection, resource conservation and sustainability.

Around a third of entries came from Germany and two thirds from outside the country; 10 per cent of those entries were from outside the European Union. There was also an above-average increase in the number of entries from outside Germany – a trend that has been apparent for several years. The majority of entries were products and solutions from the workshop equipment segment, including tools, measuring devices and aids, in the categories Repair & Maintenance, and Repair & Diagnostics.

Automechanika Frankfurt 2018 is being held across all 12 halls at the Frankfurt Messe, with Hall 11 dedicated to the Body and Paint section. BodyShop News is exhibiting at stand 11.1 D63.

Mercedes-Benz App Helps Motorists Move To New-Age Cars

Mercedes-Benz has developed a new smartphone app that helps motorists decide if they should switch to alternatively powered cars.

Known as EQ Ready, the app can record journeys made by the user in any make of car, analyse their everyday mobility behaviour and compare it with numerous parameters of electric and hybrid vehicles. Mercedes-Benz says this makes it possible to try out e-mobility in a virtual yet realistic way. The usage profile generated is also significantly more meaningful than a once-only test drive.

EQ Ready also shows which alternatively-powered Mercedes-Benz vehicles best match the user’s individual behaviour.

The tracking feature records speed, acceleration and stoppages, as well as ambient parameters such as temperature and altitude profile, making it possible to calculate range and energy consumption. Users can also manually enter the location of potential charging stations. In the case of a hybrid, the mobility behaviour evaluation focuses exclusively on all-electric mode.

The user’s personal mobility behaviour is transmitted by Wi-Fi or mobile data to the ‘Mercedes me’ server for evaluation. The user then receives feedback such as “Congratulations! All your journeys can be made electrically without additional recharging.”

Mercedes-Benz says users can maintain privacy by disabling the tracking feature at any time. The app also regularly reminds users when data is being recorded.

Wilko Stark, Head of Daimler & Mercedes-Benz Cars Strategy and Head of CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared & Services, Electric), said the app shows electric cars and hybrids in all-electric mode are more suitable for everyday use than most people believe.

“Following their personal reality check with our app, even sceptics discover that an electric car or hybrid would satisfy their mobility needs,” he said.

The EQ Ready app can be downloaded free for iOS and Android.

Will Suncorp Sell Capital S.M.A.R.T?

Suncorp is reportedly seeking a buyer for its majority shareholding in Capital S.M.A.R.T Repairs, which is believed to be worth more than $300 million.

The group owns 95 per cent of Capital S.M.A.R.T, with the balance owned by its founder Jim Vais.

According to Suncorp, Capital S.M.A.R.T handles 45 per cent of its motor vehicle repairs.

Capital S.M.A.R.T reported $290 million in revenue for the 2016-2017 financial year, an increase of $47 million over the previous 12 months. The company also reported a net profit of $14.1 million and assets of $61.6 million. It operates 45 sites across Australia and New Zealand and has an estimated 4.3 per cent of the Australian collision repair market.

Elite Body Shop Solutions Launches Online Academy

Elite Body Shop Solutions founder Dave Luehr has created an online body shop academy he says will assist collision industry professionals in gaining a competitive business advantage.

Luehr says the academy will offer affordable online video classes to help owners, managers, and administrative staff find solutions to many leadership and personal development challenges faced in today’s business environment. The classes will be in addition to the free Elite Webinar Series the company has hosted since March 2018.

“At Elite Body Shop Academy, we are hoping to fill a void in the industry by offering an online resource where collision industry professionals can easily experience the education that will make the biggest difference in their lives and businesses,” said Luehr. “This educational content is designed to help shop leaders and their teams not only increase their business skills, but also to help the individuals involved discover their own limitless potential and live more satisfying lives as a result, all without leaving the office.”

According to Luehr, the academy will allow students to sign up for various classes and systematically go through each lesson at their own pace.

“We are also working closely with the Automotive Management Institute (AMi), so students will be able to take a short quiz and earn valuable credits towards their chosen Ami professional designation. Even the free Elite webinars are eligible for AMi credit,” said Luehr.

The site currently hosts all of Elite’s past educational webinars, including presentations by industry leaders such as Jake Rodenroth, Mark Olson, Ryan Taylor, Nick Schoolcraft and Mike Jones.

“In the next few weeks, we will be making a big announcement about our first official online course,” Luehr said. “We will be sharing a very special limited‐time offer to those who are existing members of our online community, so I recommend signing up right away to be included.”

For more information about Elite Body Shop Solutions and the Elite Body Shop Academy, visit www.elitebodyshopsolutions.com/academy or email [email protected]