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.

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]

Axalta’s Charlie Shaver To Lead Specialty Chemicals After Sale Completion

Charles “Charlie” Shaver will join Specialty Chemicals from Axalta, where he currently serves as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. He will step down as CEO of Axalta on 4 September but will remain Chairman of the Board.

In its strategy to separate Specialty Chemicals from its Paints and Coatings business, AkzoNobel announced in March 2018 that it had agreed to sell its Specialty Chemicals business to The Carlyle Group and GIC. Upon completion of the transaction, expected before the end of 2018, Shaver will head the new company as Chief Executive Officer.

Shaver brings more than 35 years in leadership roles across the global chemical industry. His appointment is subject to completion of the transaction.

Symach And DCR Systems Form Strategic Partnership

Symach has announced a strategic partnership with DCR (Diversified Collision Repair) Systems. As part of the new collaboration, the two companies will combine their strengths to build what Symach CEO Osvaldo Bergaglio refers to as “tomorrow’s workshop.”

“It’s clearly a relationship that will allow us to develop tomorrow’s workshops and utilise the strengths of each company not only to put together the ‘super shop’ but also the ‘super team’ to operate it,” said Michael Giarrizzo, CEO and President of DCR Systems. “It’s exciting to be on the cutting edge and be able to work with another forward-thinking company.”

“DCR uses a fantastic process-based production system that standardises and streamlines each procedure and eliminates many of the inefficiencies associated with auto body repairs,” said Bergaglio. “It is very complementary to the Symach system and we are really excited about working together.

Founded in 2001, Symach offers a complete range of body shop equipment for the collision repair industry, including its unique FixLine repair process, SPAP (Symach Paint Application Process) and DryTronic robotic technology for drying paint in a less than a minute.

DCR Systems was founded in 2004 and is owned by Giarrizzo and partners. The Ohio and Atlanta-based business sets up accident repair facilities based on lean manufacturing principles for automotive dealerships looking to outsource their operations.

Moving forward, Symach plans to sell new collision repair facilities in the USA market that will operate under the DCR standard model. In addition, DCR Systems will offer a turn-key franchise-like model for dealers. In both scenarios, Symach equipment will be utilised and training will be provided.

When Giarrizzo first met Bergaglio a couple of years ago, he said he was impressed with the robotics technology being designed, manufactured and sold by the Italian-based company. The two business owners spent time in body shops set up by DCR Systems as well as some recent installations by Symach in Canada.

The business owners said they soon discovered the commonalities of the two companies. For example, the DCR System’s proprietary model involves the layout of the rail system, which allows vehicles to move through the paint line. This is similar to what Symach does as well in its layout process.

“It was really eye-opening seeing what the company has already done,” said Giarrizzo. “We started to feel the synergy between the two companies.”

Both Symach and DCR Systems say they focus on continuous workflow in the body shop and a process-centered environment. The goal is to ensure the team understands the required pace so that the steps of the process are interdependent and must work in sequence. The desired outcome is to have all vehicles go through the shop uninterrupted and ensure they are repaired in a very predictable amount of time.

“DCR Systems specialises in fostering a team environment with very strict validation stages that maximises touch time and minimises waste,” said Bergaglio. “It’s about speed and first-time quality, so nothing has to be redone.”

“As an industry, we can never stop seeking improvement not only in technology, but also in the way we do work,” said Giarrizzo. “This is truly tomorrow’s technology and groundbreaking for the industry. The folks at Symach are innovators – they are engineers and inventors and so are we, making it a powerful relationship.”

Axalta Appoints Yves Kerstens As Vice President And President for EMEA

Axalta has announced the appointment of Yves Kerstens as Vice President and President of the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.

He succeeds Matthias Schonberg effective as of 1 August 2018 and will be based in Axalta’s EMEA headquarters in Basel, Switzerland.

Before joining Axalta, Kerstens worked at Bridgestone Corporation for 13 years where he held a number of senior executive roles in the EMEA and the Asia Pacific regions.

He previously worked in the management consulting sector, holding various positions at Capgemini and Ernst & Young Consulting.

Kerstens holds Master’s degrees in Electromechanical Engineering Technology, Industrial Management and International Corporate Governance.

Joe McDougall, Axalta’s Executive Vice President and President of Global Refinish and EMEA, says:

“I am delighted to welcome Yves as Axalta’s new EMEA president.

With his vast leadership experience, he has all the skills necessary to guide our business in the region.

He will have a clear focus on our customers while also looking to expand Axalta’s business interests as well as optimising business processes.”

Terrence Hahn Appointed New Axalta Chief Executive Officer

Axalta Coating Systems today announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Terrence Hahn as Chief Executive Officer, effective 4 September, 2018, succeeding Charlie Shaver, who served as Axalta’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer since 2013. Hahn will also serve on Axalta’s board of directors, expanding the board’s size from eight to nine directors.

Hahn was most recently President and Chief Executive Officer of Honeywell International Inc.’s Home and Building Technologies group. Shaver, who has chosen to step down as Chief Executive Officer to pursue a unique professional opportunity, will remain on Axalta’s board and serve as Non-Executive Chairman, working closely with Hahn to ensure a seamless leadership transition.

“On behalf of Axalta’s board, I want to welcome Terrence Hahn to the company,” said Shaver. “We are confident that Terrence is a great choice to lead Axalta going forward. His accomplishments as an executive with over a decade of domestic and international experience across multiple business groups at Honeywell, along with his nearly two decades of previous experience in a variety of leadership roles at air products and chemicals, make him a terrific fit for Axalta.

“Since I became CEO more than five years ago, we have prudently managed Axalta’s business and balance sheet, positioning the company to capitalise on opportunities as they arise and generate long-term shareholder value. I am very proud of our achievements as well as our excellent prospects for the future. I recently informed the board that I was considering stepping down as CEO and, consistent with our long-term succession planning, the board commenced a search for a potential successor CEO to build on Axalta’s accomplishments and lead the company forward. We identified Terrence as having a proven track record of success, and the right expertise, experience, and personality for Axalta. I look forward to a successful transition of the Chief Executive Officer role to Terrence and a wonderful partnership with him in my role as Chairman.

“Serving as CEO of Axalta has been an honour and a privilege. It was an extremely difficult decision to step away from an executive role at Axalta, but I am confident that Terrence has the right skillset to take Axalta to the next level of growth and development.”

“I am honoured to join Axalta at this dynamic time for the company and the coatings industry,” said Hahn. “Axalta has leading positions, a terrific executive team, strong global presence and top brands. I am excited about the tremendous opportunity at Axalta to drive organic growth through innovative and value-add offerings that will deepen existing customer relationships and attract new customers, as well as add inorganic growth through strategic acquisitions. I appreciate the board’s confidence in me and look forward to working with Charlie and the Axalta leadership team to help drive the next phase of Axalta’s growth and build shareholder value.”

Mark Garrett, Presiding Director of Axalta’s board, added: “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Charlie for his outstanding service to Axalta. As CEO, he led the company’s separation from its former parent and oversaw Axalta’s initial public offering and listing on the New York Stock Exchange. Under his leadership, Axalta has made tremendous strides, driven by a resolute commitment to customer service and innovation. We are very pleased that he will continue to serve as Chairman. We are confident in a seamless transition of leadership to Terrence Hahn. With his experience and impressive track record he is well-suited to lead Axalta’s continued growth in the coatings industry.”

Thatcham Research’s Peter Shaw To Step Down As Chief Executive

Thatcham Research has announced that Peter Shaw is stepping down from his role as Chief Executive with immediate effect due to ill-health.

Shaw, who has been Chief Executive as well as a Board member for seven years, has steered Thatcham Research through a period of notable change, with the organisation increasingly recognised as a global centre of excellence for assisted and automated driving assessment and testing.

He initiated a research strategy which reflected this fast pace of change in the automotive market – and more importantly, kept ahead of it with thought leadership and rapid development of safety standards.

The recruitment process to identify his successor is now underway. Strategic duties at Thatcham Research will continue to be managed by Neale Phillips and Ruth McRitchie.

The Thatcham Research Board is drawn from its 24-member insurers, who fund the essential research on vehicle safety, security, personal injury and accident damage repair.

Graham Gibson, Chief Claims Officer at Allianz Insurance and Chairman of Thatcham Research, said: “Peter has achieved so much for the business and our position in the industry since joining us.

“He has played a pivotal role in driving a new focus upon testing and influencing vehicle safety and security performance to minimise motor insurance costs. This has been hugely important due to the technological advances in active and passive car safety.

“Under Peter’s leadership, Thatcham Research has never been more relevant than it is today, and keeping our members informed and educated will remain vital.

“We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Peter who has been an outstanding Chief Executive and Board member since 2011. I’d also like to extend my gratitude to Ruth and Neale, who have maintained our strategic agenda so strongly in the interim period.”

Car Manufacturer Use of the Word ‘Autonomous’ Dangerous: Thatcham Research

Thatcham Research and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) issued an urgent call to car manufacturers and legislators for greater clarity around the capability of vehicles sold with technology that does more and more driving on behalf of motorists. The call comes in the wake of growing reports of people crashing while over-relying on technology which is not yet designed to drive the car independently.

The risks to drivers have been outlined in the new ‘Assisted and Automated Driving Definition and Assessment’ paper, which has identified dangerous grey areas associated with some driver support technologies. These include misleading names, like Autopilot and ProPilot, given to systems by car manufacturers, how and when drivers should take back control of their vehicles and systems which are designed to work in specific situations only (e.g. on motorways) but can also function anywhere.

Matthew Avery, Head of Research at Thatcham Research said, “We are starting to see real-life examples of the hazardous situations that occur when motorists expect the car to drive and function on its own. Specifically, where the technology is taking ownership of more and more of the driving task, but the motorist may not be sufficiently aware that they are still required to take back control in problematic circumstances. Fully Automated vehicles that can own the driving task from A to B, with no need for driver involvement whatsoever, won’t be available for many years to come. Until then, drivers remain criminally liable for the safe use of their cars and as such, the capability of current road vehicle technologies must not be oversold.”

Avery continues, “It begins with how systems are named and described across car manufacturer marketing materials and the driver’s handbook. Names like Autopilot or ProPilot are deeply unhelpful, as they infer the car can do a lot more than it can. Absolute clarity is needed, to help drivers understand the when and how these technologies are designed to work and that they should always remain engaged in the driving task.”

James Dalton, Director of General Insurance Policy at the ABI, said, “Insurers are major supporters of efforts to get assisted and autonomous vehicles onto the UK’s roads. Given the part human error plays in the overwhelming majority of accidents, these technologies have the potential to dramatically improve road safety. However, we are a long way from fully autonomous cars which will be able to look after all parts of a journey and in the meantime, it remains crucial that all drivers are alert and ready to take back full control at a moment’s notice. Manufacturers must be responsible in how they describe and name what their vehicles can do, and the insurance industry is ready to hold them to account on this.”

UAE Cabinet Approves New Long-Term Visa For International Investors

The UAE Cabinet, chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has adopted a new system of entry visas for investors and professional talents providing them with a long-term visa for up to 10 years.

“The UAE will remain a global incubator for exceptional talents and a permanent destination for international investors. Our open environment, tolerant values, infrastructure and flexible legislation are the best plan to attract global investment and exceptional talents in the UAE,” said His Highness Sheikh Mohammed.

The new visa system will increase the chances of attracting investors and competencies to the UAE and thus increase the country’s economic competitiveness globally. The global investors’ ownership is expected to reach 100 per cent by the end of the year. The system will grant investors and talents up to 10-year residency visas for specialists in medical, scientific, research and technical fields, as well as for all scientists and innovators.

Symach Installs FixStation Equipment At Mervyn’s The Body Shop In Canada

Symach announced the installation of its FixLine system at Mervyn’s The Body Shop in Kelowna, British Columbia.

The FixLine system consists of a layout and repair process that combines Symach’s patented Drytronic technology, specialized robots and the Symach Paint Application Process (SPAP) painting cycle.

“The FixStation is a modern and innovative solution that will ensure high productivity for Mervyn’s The Body Shop,” said Osvaldo Bergaglio, CEO of Symach. “The hybrid solution works as a spray booth and a workstation in one area and will allow one of Mervyn’s technicians to perform three to four repairs a day without moving the vehicle.”

Established more than 40 years ago in the Okanagan area of British Columbia, Mervyn’s prides itself on providing the highest quality repair and customer satisfaction.

“It’s all about staying on top and being the best we can be for us and for the customer,” said Jason Agostino, owner of Mervyn’s. “Symach’s equipment is helping us fulfill that.”

Mervyn’s The Body Shop is a very old Kelowna company purchased by Peter Facinek in the early 2000s. Agostino came on board as the body shop manager soon after and became co-owner of the business. Since then, he has run the shop on a day-to-day basis with Facinek as a consultant and silent partner. Agostino’s wife, Rosy, also helps in the business.

The owners always planned to open a new location and over the last several years, they have been working on the design.

During this time, they found out about Symach equipment from attending an AkzoNobel Acoat Selected performance group meeting.

“We are continually investigating newer and better ways to repair and finish damaged vehicles to ensure that customers are 100 per cent satisfied,” he said. “We learned that Symach builds exactly what we were look for,” said Agostino.

Facinek first went to Ontario to visit another collision repair facility using the equipment and then traveled to Italy to see Symach’s operation first-hand. Following that trip, Mervyn’s decided to purchase Symach’s FixLine system, two Fly dry robots and one easy dry robot in addition to five lifts.

“We already had the layout designed for the new location,” said Agostino. “Symach modified it to fit the equipment and we decided to buy the whole package rather than try to piecemeal everything together.”

It was installed in November 2017 and Symach trained all of the technicians. It has been operational since February.

“We’ve always used team systems and run a processed-centered environment using other tools, so it was a smooth transition for us to use Symach’s quality equipment,” said Agostino.

The baking equipment uses a slightly different application, but he has found that it has been working out well.

Although they are still in their infancy stages using Symach’s equipment, they have found it has already helped with cycle time in the shop. “What used to take us one and a half hours, now takes 20 minutes,” said Agostino. “You don’t have to wait for dry times. They told us that, but you never really believe it until you see it.”

Since installing the equipment, Agostino said it has helped the shop stay cleaner and it’s a nicer environment for his 13 employees to work, many of whom have worked there long-term. By installing the lifts, it has also been easier on the body technicians. Overall, he said has been impressed with the dependability and predictability of the equipment. “When I’m painting a vehicle, I know it will be ready at a certain time,” he said.

Mervyns offers a lifetime written guarantee on all of the work completed. “An important component of this is ensuring our paint booths and spraying equipment are state-of-the-art,” said Agostino. “We are committed to leading the collision repair industry in technical skills, equipment and quality of work and Symach equipment is helping us do that.”