BASF To Build New Automotive Refinish Coatings Site In China

BASF will build a new automotive refinish coatings site in Jiangmen, Guangdong Province, China in the first half of 2022.

“Guangdong Province is of strategic importance to BASF in Greater China,” said Zheng Daqing, Senior Vice President, Business and Market Development, BASF Greater China. “The investment in Jiangmen will double the production capacity of the site. Located in the fast-growing area of the Pearl River Delta, the new facility will enable us to be even closer to our customers, further supporting the automotive industry.”

Acquired from a local family business in 2016, BASF Coatings (Guangdong) Co., Ltd. is the company’s first automotive refinish coatings production site in Asia. The company says in the past three years, the site has become a world-class production facility, supported by continuous investments in environment, health and safety, product quality, people, and research and development.

After the acquisition, BASF formed a technology hub in Jiangmen to focus on colour technology and developing sustainable high-performance products for the refinish and commercial transportation segments in Asia Pacific.

“We have upgraded the production and environmental protection facilities to meet BASF’s world-class standards,” said Patrick Zhao, Senior Vice President, BASF Coatings Solutions Asia Pacific. “At the same time, we have enhanced the skillsets of our employees, with one focus being on environment, health and safety practices. This is how we have built a professional, competitive team and fostered a safe and sustainable corporate culture. We now have the full capability to serve the growing local and regional value-for-money market with strong product and solution offerings.”

BASF said its environmental credentials and contributions were recognised by the local Environmental Protection Bureau of Jiangmen when it was named a “Green Brand” in October 2018.

Hadi Zablit Named Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Secretary General

Hadi Zablit has been named as the new Secretary General for the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi automotive alliance. He will oversee industrial cooperation projects and improve the efficiency and financial performance of the partnership.

Zablit is currently the Business Development Chief for the French-Japanese alliance, which sold 10.6 million vehicles worldwide in 2017. Zablit first joined Renault as an engineer and product manager in 1994, leaving to work for the Boston Consulting Group in 2000 before returning to the company just under three years ago.

The change was spurred by the alliance looking for a new start following the arrest and legal battles of ex-CEO Carlos Ghosn, who was detained last November over allegations of financial impropriety.

Ghosn is now out on bail after more than four months in a Japanese detention centre. He faces charges of deferring part of his salary until after his retirement and concealing this from shareholders, as well as siphoning off millions in Nissan cash for his own purposes.

Axalta Receives 2018 Masters Of Quality Supplier Award

Axalta Coating Systems hosted a ceremony where the company accepted the Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) 2018 Masters of Quality Supplier award.

The award honours top suppliers of components and services to Freightliner Trucks and Western Star brand trucks and recognises outstanding suppliers that have received high scores based on their quality, delivery, technology and cost performance as measured on a balanced scorecard basis. Axalta says such suppliers demonstrate dedication to continuous improvement of the quality of their products, support to DTNA and overall performance.

“It’s a great day of celebration for our employees as we recognise their incredible contributions for this prestigious award,” said Joseph Wood, Axalta Vice President-Commercial Transportation Coatings. “Daimler’s recognition is a great honour for the entire Axalta team. This award acknowledges our commitment to our customers, to providing exceptional service and support, and to offering outstanding products. We look forward to continuing this tremendous relationship with Daimler Trucks North America.”

“It is with the commitment and support of all our suppliers that we can provide our customers with the quality, service and highest levels of product innovations in the industry,” said Jeff Allen, SVP of Operations and Specialty Vehicles for Daimler Trucks North America. “We are pleased to recognise the 45 Masters of Quality award recipients who have excelled in their commitment to excellence, and we appreciate their continued partnership.”

Penske Buys Indy Speedway, IndyCar Series

Roger Penske has announced that he will purchase the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the IndyCar Series and multiple other subsidiaries such as Indianapolis Motor Speedway Productions. Expected to close in early January, the deal will see Penske become the fourth owner of the 110-year old track.

“It’s bittersweet,” said Tony George, Chairman of Hulman & Co, the current owner. “But very exciting because we know we’re passing the torch to an individual who has created the organisation that is not only dynamic but ideally suited, I think, to take over the stewardship, a corporation that is family-involved much like ours, but with a track record that is really without compare.”

There are no management changes planned for now, but members of a board to oversee operations will be announced when the deal closes. Penske declined to share the value of the transaction, but said he planned to invest capital into the property.

“It was a great business opportunity for us to grow it to the next level,” Penske said. “We say, ‘Can this be the entertainment capital, not only the racing capital of the world, but the entertainment capital of the world in Indiana?’”

Penske said he plans to walk the entire facility and then start developing with stakeholders a list of top 10 priorities to improve the racetrack, grow the IndyCar Series and attract other events, including from NASCAR and Formula 1. Attracting a third car manufacturing partner is also a priority, according to Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co.

Penske addressed concerns on the new ownership of the racing series and his racing presenting a conflict of interest, saying he expects he will take more time away from the pit stand, while the sanctioning body of IndyCar will be a separate company.

“I understand the integrity, and there’s got to be a bright line,” Penske said. “To me, I know what my job is and hopefully we have enough credibility with everyone, and we can be sure that is not a conflict.”

In the past, Penske has also expressed an interest in seeing guaranteed spots for IndyCar regulars in the Indianapolis 500, saying that it’s something that could be discussed in the future.

“Some of the excitement’s been in the past that we wanted some people to come in the race. We also understand people who commit to the entire season and take this series around the country, around the world potentially, we need to make sure they’re taken care of. I think it’s a debate, but at this point, I wouldn’t comment one way or the other.”

Penske’s race team celebrated its 50th anniversary of first competing at Indianapolis this year. The team also holds the achievement of most wins in Indianapolis 500 history with 18 victories.

Carsten Knobel To Become New Henkel CEO

Henkel has announced that CEO Hans Van Bylen will step down at the end of his term, handing over the position to current CFO Carsten Knobel from the start of 2020.

Van Bylen has been with the company for around 35 years, 15 of which were on its Management Board and four years as CEO.

“After about 35 years with Henkel, I have decided that with the expiration of my contract next year, it is now the right time to make an orderly change at the top of the company,” said Van Bylen. “For personal reasons, I will not seek a further term as Chairman of the Management Board. I would like to thank all employees and my colleagues in the Management Board for their dedication and commitment over the past years, as well as all members of our supervisory committees for their support and advice.

“I am also glad that we were able to appoint Carsten Knobel from within our Management Board as successor and CEO. I am convinced that Henkel will continue to develop successfully under his leadership.”

“Hans Van Bylen has made a significant contribution to the successful development of our company over the years and has actively developed numerous senior leaders,” said Dr. Simone Bagel-Trah, Chairwoman of the Supervisory Board and Shareholders’ Committee. “Under the leadership of Hans Van Bylen, all business units were further strengthened through acquisitions and partnerships.

“The acquisition of Sun Products significantly expanded the market position of our Laundry & Home Care business in the USA, our largest market worldwide. Acquisitions were also made in Adhesive Technologies and Beauty Care. He put particular emphasis on the digitalisation of the company in all areas, which he drove forward with great determination. We would like to sincerely thank him for the important course settings during his time as CEO and for his commitment to our company for more than 35 years.”

Knobel studied business administration and technical chemistry at the Technical University of Berlin, starting his career at Henkel in 1995 as assistant to the Management Board member responsible for research and development. He then moved to the Beauty Care business unit, where he held various positions of increasing responsibility in controlling, mergers and acquisitions and the operating businesses. Following his roles as Head of Corporate Strategy & Controlling and Financial Director of the Beauty Care unit, he was appointed Chief Financial Officer in 2012.

“With Carsten Knobel, we have appointed an excellent successor from within the company,” said Dr. Bagel-Trah. “He knows Henkel very well and has many years of international management and leadership experience. He is highly regarded by his colleagues on the Management Board as well as by our employees and has also an excellent reputation in the capital markets. We are convinced that, together with the entire Management Board, he will continue to drive vigorously the development of our company. On behalf of all Henkel committees and employees, I wish him all the best and success for the future.”

Knobel is also a member of the Supervisory Board of Lufthansa and Deputy Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Bundesliga Soccer Club Fortuna Düsseldorf in Germany.

“I am grateful for the trust which is expressed through this appointment,” said Knobel. “I am looking forward to working with my colleagues on the Management Board and our global team to shape the future of Henkel. We have excellent employees, leading brands and technologies, exciting innovations and great opportunities for further sustainable profitable growth with our businesses in a dynamic market environment.”

US Army, GM Collaborate To Improve Automotive Cybersecurity

The US Army CCDC Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC) and General Motors have announced a new Cooperative Research And Development Agreement (CRADA). The objective of the CRADA is bolstering the US Army’s and GM’s vehicle cybersecurity expertise over the next two years.

Cybersecurity experts from both parties will share best practices, methodologies, tools and approaches focused on conducting penetration testing and cybersecurity risk analysis. Both organisations hope to share key learnings with the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) for the development of common standards in addition to improving cybersecurity methods.

Two US Army engineers will embed with their counterparts at GM, while a GM expert is scheduled to co-locate with the US Army’s Ground Vehicle Cybersecurity Team.

“Cybersecurity is an area of growing concern to the auto industry and one GM takes very seriously, which is why a partnership with the US Army is crucially important,” said Kevin Tierney, GM Chief Product Cybersecurity Officer.

Tradiebot Joins Government Skills Conference In Vietnam

Tradiebot will take part in a joint Australian and Vietnam government skills conference held in Vietnam later this month. Tradiebot will be one of a handful of companies from across the world who will take part in planning sessions on skills and training.

The programme, organised by the Australian Government, AusCham Vietnam, Austrade and WorldSkills Australia, is designed to tackle the need for new programmes and technologies used in early training and skill development of the current workforce.

The event will be hosted across two cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, featuring government representatives, education providers and an array of workshops, conferences, expert panels and demonstrations of new technologies in areas such as virtual reality (VR) platforms, where Tradiebot will showcase its SprayVIS product.

Tradiebot says that SprayVIS is the most technologically advanced, cost effective and compact virtual reality spray painting simulator on the market and provides a new perspective in developing training using virtual environments. The solution comes with three user modes – Expo, Training as the main feature, and Leaner which is a light version of the software offered to schools as a platform to provide a direct connection to industry and stimulate interest in trades.

Tradiebot is in the final stages of packaging its ReadyTradeGO programme, which the company thinks could reach every school and home of students that have an interest in a career path such as spray painting or vehicle repair. The company also feels it could be used with new smart devices such as VR headsets.

Tradiebot said its CEO, Mario Dimovski, will also be presenting and taking part in talks with officials from both governments and training providers about the need to introduce new digital solutions for training and information delivery to the vehicle industry, and how to better connect with the future workforce via the education network.

“We look forward to contributing in this programme with the Australian and Vietnam governments and the delegates from the training and education sectors,” said Dimovski. “Our software solutions offer a new perspective in generating interest for the younger generation using these new digital tools that they can relate to, be it either via a mobile phone, smart tablet or a VR gaming headset. These are everyday devices that the younger generation are now growing up around.

“We aim to promote trades as a pathway to a secure and prospective career choice as the need to repair vehicles increases, though the flow of new apprentices is at a record low around the world. With technology in cars and repair methods becoming more complex, it is just as crucial to ensure that the technicians of today are equipped with the knowledge and understanding on how to carry out safer repairs and continually be upskilled on the ever-changing repair industry.”

FCAI Announces September 2019 New Vehicle Sales Figures

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has released new vehicle sales figures for September 2019.

According to Tony Weber, Chief Executive of the FCAI, new vehicles have now seen the 18th consecutive month of decreasing sales in the Australian market.

“It is clear the slower sales rate the market is experiencing is in line with the broader economic environment in Australia,” said Weber. “Of particular concern to the industry is the restrictive regulatory lending conditions currently facing consumers. The question has to be asked – are these results telling us we have made it too difficult for people to finance basic purchases in today’s Australia?”

Total sales for the month numbered 88,181 vehicles, a decrease of 6530 vehicles, or 6.9 per cent, on September 2018. On a year-to-date basis, a total of 811,464 new vehicles were sold, a decrease of 69,541 vehicles, or 7.9 per cent, on the same period in 2018.

During the month, the Sports Utility market (41,861 units) lifted by 1.1 per cent, while the Passenger Vehicle market (24,893 units) was down 18.3 per cent, and the Light Commercial market (18,257) decreased by 5.4 per cent.

Of the top 10 best-selling vehicles, the top three were light commercial vehicles – the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi Triton. Four were sports utility vehicles – the Mitsubishi ASX, Mazda CX-5, Nissan X-Trail and the Mitsubishi Outlander. Only three were passenger vehicles – the Hyundai i30, Toyota Corolla and Kia Cerato.

Toyota remained the top selling marque for the month with 15,166 sales for 17.2 per cent market share, followed by Mitsubishi (8990 sales for 10.2 per cent market share), Mazda (8168 sales for 9.3 per cent market share) Hyundai (7245 sales for 8.2 per cent market share) and Kia (5128 for 5.8 per cent market share).

PPG May Bid For Axalta, Faces Competition

According to Reuters, PPG Industries has partnered with private equity investor Clayton, Dubilier & Rice to consider acquiring Axalta Coating Systems.

Citing people with knowledge of the matter, Reuters said joining forces with the buyout firm would enable PPG to get around any regulatory concerns which could be raised by an acquisition. The sources said the parties are considering establishing a consortium which could also include the likes of Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC, along with US investment management firm BlackRock, to carry out the deal. However, should the parties go ahead with the planned approach, they could have some competition from Platinum Equity and Koch Industries, with the sources telling Reuters the pair have held talks about partnering on a bid.

A sale of Axalta was first reported back in June, when the company began a review of strategic alternatives in an attempt to “generate value for shareholders”. However, the sources cautioned that there is no guarantee of a sale of Axalta taking place. Axalta rebuffed acquisition approaches in 2017 from Akzo Nobel and Nippon Paint Holdings.

Axalta, which describes itself as a leading global coatings provider active in the development, manufacturing, delivery and service of liquid and power coatings, employs around 14,000 people and has a customer base numbering in excess of 100,000 and spanning 130 countries.

None of the parties involved have commented on the report.

Symach Names Stephen Healer UK Sales Manager

Symach has promoted Stephen Healer to UK Sales Manager as part of a larger plan to open a Symach UK subsidiary within next year. The company hopes that the new UK office will “reinforce commercial structure in the UK” to give effective on-site support to customers and provide timely responses to their needs.

“With Stephen’s extensive experience in the coatings industry, he will be instrumental in helping Symach showcase its complete body shop solution,” said Osvaldo Bergaglio, Symach CEO. “He will work closely with body shops across the UK to demonstrate how they can shift from using the conventional repair process to Symach’s unique FixLine process, which drastically reduces the cost of repairs.”

Healer joined the industry in a temporary role as a van sales representative for a regional coatings distributor over 25 years ago. He worked at Nitrotherm Spray as National Sales Manager in the UK prior to joining Symach.

“I quickly developed a passion for the refinish industry and greatly value the relationships I have formed over the years,” said Healer. “I’m excited to join Symach’s international team and help collision repair facilities across the UK learn more about Symach’s unique approach repairing vehicles based on the FixLine process.

“Over the last decade, the accident repair industry in the UK has declined by around 20 per cent to just over 3000 body shops, leading to a shortage in repair capacity. We also see a shortage in skilled staff, specifically painters, contributing to increased staffing costs.”

This will lead to an increase in overall repair costs, according to Healer.

“As repair volumes decrease and costs increase, this is applying pressure on body shops to reduce their costs and increase productivity,” he said. “I look forward to building new relationships with these groups and demonstrating how Symach equipment and technology is perfectly aligned to help them be successful now and, in the future.”