PPG Partners With Uni Of Michigan’s Mcity For Autonomous Vehicle Research

PPG announced its partnership with the University of Michigan’s (U-M’s) Mcity, a public-private partnership that brings together industry, government and academia to improve transportation safety, sustainability and accessibility for the benefit of the society. Mcity’s work includes operating the Mcity Test Facility, which is the world’s first purpose-built proving ground for testing autonomous vehicles, connected-vehicle systems and related technologies. PPG is the first paints and coatings manufacturer to join the Mcity partnership.

PPG is developing a broad portfolio of coatings to improve functionality and enable broad deployment of autonomous vehicles. These developments include exterior coatings that enhance vehicle visibility to radar and light detection and ranging (LIDAR) systems, as well as easy-to-clean coatings that help prevent obstruction of autonomous vehicle sensors. PPG highlighted these technologies at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) at Cobo Center in Detroit.

The Mcity Test Facility, which opened in 2015, was developed by U-M with support from the Michigan Department of Transportation. The facility aims to re-create a range of operating challenges faced by vehicles on the road with simulated urban and suburban environments. Sitting on a 128,000-square metre site on U-M’s North Campus, the facility offers more than 64,000-square metres of roads and traffic infrastructure, including approximately eight lane-kilometres of roads with intersections, traffic signals, street lighting, sidewalks, fire hydrants, simulated buildings and obstacles like construction barriers and pedestrian crash dummies. In addition to operating the test facility, Mcity also funds academic research and works with its partners to deploy connected and automated vehicles in Ann Arbor and Southeast Michigan.

“Autonomous vehicle technology offers numerous real-world advantages, and the ability to test such technologies safely and thoroughly is essential for proving the viability of advanced mobility solutions,” said Huei Peng, director, Mcity. “Our state-of-the-art facility offers a controlled environment for manufacturers like PPG to develop and hone the capabilities of autonomous vehicles and related technologies, while also providing them access to a variety of valuable tools and resources. We’re excited to have PPG be part of this journey.”

Added Gary Danowski, PPG vice president, Automotive OEM Coatings, “Specialized coatings will play an integral role in the development of safe and reliable driverless vehicles. We are enthusiastic about this partnership and are always actively seeking additional R&D partners as we continue to explore new possibilities in emerging vehicle technologies.”

The agreement provides PPG with access to resources such as Mcity lab and project data; research and deployment assets; an independent forum of suppliers, manufacturers and end users; university expertise related to legal, regulatory and social issues; and Mcity research review meetings and the annual Mcity Congress.

Allianz, Suncorp Refund $62.8 Million In Add-On Insurance Premiums

Allianz will refund $45.6 million to 68,000 customers and Suncorp will refund $17.2 million to 41,428 MTA Insurance customers for add-on policies, both of which were bought through car dealerships that provided little or no value to consumers.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission said it had a number of concerns about the design and sale of a range of Allianz add-on insurance products sold through car dealerships across Australia between 1 December 2010 and 30 November 2017. The Allianz refund programme will cover four Allianz add-on insurance products sold between the seven-year period. These were Motor Equity Insurance, a Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) insurance that pays the difference between the amount owed on a car loan and the amount the car is insured for if written off; Loan Protection Insurance (LPI), a form of consumer credit insurance; tyre and rim insurance; and extended warranties.

ASIC expressed several concerns with these products, including the unlikelihood customers could claim on their GAP policies because of these policies’ design, as well as customers being over-insured or not needing the policies they were sold. Life cover (under LPI) was sold to young people who were unlikely to need it, while customers were sold extended warranties they were unlikely to need because it might have been up to seven years before they could make a claim (as the car had a manufacturer’s warranty for that period).

MTA Insurance was pinged over its own GAP insurance policy offered to dealership customers between 2009 and 2017. Like Allianz, ASIC found it unlikely that the customer could claim on the insurance, because they may have paid a large deposit on the car loan so that the insured value of the car was more than the amount borrowed. ASIC also noted that the GAP policy cover was unnecessary as it duplicated replacement vehicle cover held by customers under their comprehensive car insurance policies, while customers were often sold a more expensive level of cover than they needed. Finally, many customers did not receive rebates under their GAP policies when they paid out their loan early, even though cover under those policies had ended.

Both companies will offer rebates as well as partial or full refunds depending on the policies customers held. Allianz will also make a community benefit payment of $175,000 to a financial literacy organisation, while MTA Insurance will make a similar payment of $50,000.

“The refunds offered by Allianz, together with those from other insurers, make up one of the largest compensation programs achieved by ASIC, with over $120 million in refunds to consumers as a result of ASIC shining a spotlight on these poor consumer outcomes,” said Acting ASIC Chair Peter Kell.

“Add-on insurance has been under the spotlight for some time now. Insurers should be taking active steps to ensure their customers are not being sold products that provide little or no value.

“Our message to insurers is simple: the needs of your customers must come first in the design, price and sale of your products.”

ASIC said it acknowledged Allianz’ cooperation and Suncorp’s engagement in both matters.

Safer Vehicles Promoted In Crashlab’s $1.6 Million Investment

Roads, Maritime and Freight Minister, Melinda Pavey, has announced increased funding for Crashlab to enhance local crash test capability to assist with independent testing of autonomous vehicle safety technologies. The Government is investing $1.6 million to upgrade the existing Crashlab test facility to enable the assessment of autonomous emergency braking (AEB) systems and other advanced driver assistance systems.

Pavey said the Government understands the importance of vehicle safety in reducing road trauma, which is why driver assistance technologies like AEB, lane-keep assist and speed assistance systems are so important.

“Expanding Crashlab’s capabilities to test new and emerging vehicle safety technologies will support ANCAP in its important role in encouraging the introduction of AEB and other life-saving technologies across the national vehicle fleet,” Pavey said. “This means that to achieve a five star ANCAP safety rating, an effective AEB or lane support system will be required on all new vehicles rated.”

“These upgrades will see NSW offer a world class vehicle safety testing capability covering crash protection, and even more importantly, crash prevention.”

This investment comes in addition to the recent upgrade of crash test equipment and acquisition of new, more sophisticated dummies, catering for the broadened ANCAP safety rating program in place from 1 January 2018.

“The independent assessment of autonomous vehicle safety technologies is a new and important element of the ANCAP safety regime this year, and this commitment from the NSW Government will extend ANCAP’s capability in this area,” ANCAP Director – Communications & Advocacy, Rhianne Robson said. “This investment to expand the service and enable the safety performance of autonomous technologies to be assessed locally will greatly enhance road safety for all Australians.”

The NSW Government is a founding member of ANCAP and through the Roads and Maritime Services’ Crashlab test facility, contributes to the ongoing testing and assessment of vehicle safety encouraging vital vehicle safety improvements.

QBE Appoints Vivek Bhatia as Chief Executive Officer, (ANZO)

QBE Insurance Group Limited announced the appointment of Vivek Bhatia as Chief Executive Officer, Australian and New Zealand Operations (ANZO), following an extensive global search. The role reports to Pat Regan, Group Chief Executive Officer, and forms part of the Group Executive Committee.

Vivek joins QBE from icare, the NSW Government public financial corporation managing the state’s insurance and care schemes. With more than AU$30 billion in assets and AU$6.7 billion in income, icare is one of the largest social insurers globally. He played a critical role in the formation of icare in 2014 and was appointed as the inaugural Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director. Prior to this he co-led the Asia Pacific Restructuring and Transformation practice at McKinsey & Company and before that, was the Chief Executive Officer, Australian Underwriting Operations at Wesfarmers Insurance.

Vivek replaces Pat Regan who was appointed Group Chief Executive Officer in September 2017 from the role of Chief Executive Officer, ANZO.

Vivek will join QBE in the first quarter of 2018 and will be based in Sydney.

Euro NCAP’s Best In Class Cars Of 2017

2017 was Euro NCAP’s busiest-ever year with nearly seventy models assessed and now Euro NCAP has announced the year’s best performers.

Volkswagen emerges with great credit with winners in three categories – the Polo in the supermini class, T Roc in the small off-road category and the prestigious Arteon in the executive class – and Volvo reinforces its reputation for safety with this year’s best overall performer, the large off-road XC60.

The winners, by category, are:

Executive VW Arteon
Large Off-Road Volvo
Small Off-Road VW T Roc
Supermini VW Polo
Small MPV Opel Crossland X
Small Family Car Subaru XV and Subaru Impreza

Most of the models tested in 2017 were new to the market and most of these achieved the maximum five-star rating which, set against Euro NCAP’s increasingly tough assessment regime, reflects the ever-improving safety of modern vehicles. Older, facelifted models fared less well, their ratings, generally poorer than those of newer cars, reflecting a lack of advanced restraint systems and driver-assistance technologies.

Michiel van Ratingen, Secretary General of Euro NCAP, “Congratulations to Volkswagen! To win best-in-class in three different categories is a great achievement and underlines the company’s commitment to providing the highest levels of safety to its customers. Subaru and Opel are also offering class-leading products while Volvo continues to underline its reputation for safety. More broadly, though, it is encouraging to see so many new cars performing so well in all areas of safety, and being equipped with greater and greater levels of life-saving technology.”

Pedestrian-detecting autobrake systems, first tested by Euro NCAP in 2016, was already available on 82 per cent of the cars tested in 2017 and standard equipment on 62 per cent of them. Speed assistance was offered on 92 per cent of the new cars tested, and was standard equipment on 82 per cent. Yet these advancements in driver-assistance technology took nothing away from improvements in crash-protection: 96 per cent offered standard two or more seating positions in the car compatible with new i-Size child restraints and 94 per cent of new cars now offer rear seat load limiters and belt tensioners as standard.

BodyShop News Summernats Giveaway

The 31th Street Machine Summernats proudly supported by Rare Spares is the largest annual horsepower party in the Southern Hemisphere, taking place this January 4 – 7, 2018 in Canberra. Featuring the world’s greatest burnout competition; the National Burnout Masters, the colourful City Cruise, the craziest cars in the country and so much more, plus a huge music line up including Wolfmother, Thundamentals and 28 Days. With so much entertainment, Summernats is a motoring lifestyle festival that you need to experience, so make sure you join more than 100,000 fans for an iconic Australian motoring experience like no other. Tickets are on sale at www.summernats.com.au

BodyShop News has four tickets to give away to the first four emails with the right answer to this question: “How many Summernats have there been already?”

Email to giveaway@bodyshopnews.net.

Automechanika Shanghai 2017 Closes With Record Breaking Figures

The 13th edition of Automechanika Shanghai, which took place from 29 November to 2 December 2017, has posted its most successful results to date. The event is Asia’s largest for the automotive parts, accessories and services industries, and represents the entire supply chain for business exchange, marketing, networking and education on a global scale. This year’s edition once again demonstrates the show’s impressive growth path, with the final figures for this year exceeding all expectations:

  • Visitors: 130, 928 (2016: 120,671) – 9 per cent increase
  • Exhibitors: 6,051 (2016: 5,756) – 5 per cent increase
  • Scale: 340,000 sqm (2016: 312,000) – 9 per cent increase

The success of the fair and its expanded sector representation was clearly reflected on the show floor, particularly through the brand new REIFEN Zone for tyres, wheels and rims, as well as in the expanded Electronics & Systems sector and the E-Mobility & Infrastructure Zone. Visitors were impressed with the exciting displays within the Motorsports & High Performance Zone, and also with the increased number of international pavilions on offer during the fair.

On top of this, even more positive feedback came from Automechanika Shanghai’s many concurrent fringe events, which this year totalled 57. These included the highly anticipated Connected Mobility Conference, as well as the AIAG Auto Parts Purchasing Leadership and Suppliers Summit and the 3rd Summit: Merger and Acquisition Strategies for Chinese Automotive Corporations in the Overseas Markets. The fair’s participants considered each of these aspects to be a vital source for expanding their business across Asia’s entire automotive industry, and have expressed their satisfaction with this year’s edition.

The next edition of Automechanika Shanghai will take place from 28 November – 1 December 2018.

Compass To Change Advertising Of Its Replacement Vehicles For Accidents

CompassCorp Pty Ltd trading as Compass Claims (Compass) will amend its advertising and sales practices following an investigation by the ACCC.

Compass is a credit hire business which provides hire cars to consumers who are not at fault in car accidents. Compass is one of the largest providers of these services in Australia.

The ACCC considered Compass was misrepresenting in brochures, its website and in phone calls that consumers who engaged Compass would not be liable for hire car charges or associated costs. Although Compass waived those charges, its contract only required Compass to do so if it was able to recover the charges from the at-fault party or their insurer.

The ACCC also considered Compass represented that consumers would not have to take any further steps to recover costs arising from their car hire. Instead, a consumer was required to assist Compass, which could include authorising court action in the consumer’s name, providing witness statements and attending court.
Compass cooperated with the ACCC’s investigation and has made several changes to its advertising, call centre procedures and sales practices to inform consumers of hire charges and their obligation to provide assistance.

“The ACCC will review the marketing and sales practices of other credit hire businesses and will pursue businesses that mislead consumers,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

Nippon Paint And Axalta End Acquisition Talks

Axalta Coating Systems confirmed that its discussions on a possible acquisition by Nippon Paint have ended. According to Axalta, Nippon Paint’s Board of Directors were unwilling to meet Axalta’s expectations regarding the value of the company and assume the financial leverage necessary for the deal.

Axalta has recently been sought after by two global competitors,” said Charles W. Shaver, Axalta’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “While neither deal came to fruition, the keen interest by these companies underscores Axalta’s global leadership position. Our current and future operational plans have not wavered during these discussions. We are well positioned to continue as a standalone growth company and will remain disciplined in generating superior long-term value for our shareholders.”

Chris Weeks Appointed Director Of UK’s National Body Repairers Association

The Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI) announced the appointment of Chris Weeks as Director of the National Body Repairers Association (NBRA) and the Vehicle Builders Repairers Association (VBRA). Weeks succeeds Jason Moseley, who announced his resignation in August.

Peter Johnson, RMI Chairman said, “We are delighted to have someone with Chris Weeks industry experience and background joining the RMI to head the two body repairers’ associations.”

Chris Weeks was most recently Director of Networks and Supply Chain at Innovation Group. Prior to this he was Director of UK Assistance Accident Repair Centres at Direct Line Group. Weeks has also worked in various roles for Churchill and RBS Insurance, with his last position as Head of Engineering and Head of Business Services.