I-CAR Announces Gold Class For Accident Repair Centre Dandenong

I-CAR Australia has awarded Accident Repair Centre Dandenong (ARCD) in Victoria with I-CAR Gold Class Collision status.

“The team at ARCD entered the Road to Gold programme 12 months ago in order to meet the Holden requirements for their approved repairer network,” said Gary Wood, I-CAR Australia Gold Class Coordinator. “They have been regular participants in the I-CAR online Virtual Classroom courses and training organised through their paint supplier, PPG. It is great to see another Holden repairer gain the Gold Class accreditation and continue to set high standards within the industry.”

“ARCD Repair Centre Pty Ltd are delighted to have successfully obtained the I-CAR Gold shop rating,” said Theo Pagiamtzis, ARCD owner. “We have found the process both informative and challenging due to the changing vehicle structures, metals and repair requirements.

“The team of people at I-CAR, from the office staff to the instructors, have been helpful, supportive and a wealth of knowledge. We as a team found the training a great team-building exercise. It has been educating, refreshing and extremely rewarding both individually and as a company to achieve this accreditation.

“Thanks, I-CAR. We will work together to maintain our current level [of] Gold,” said Pagiamtzis.

Insurer-Owned Repairer In NZ Said To Reduce Consumer Choice

An automotive industry association in New Zealand is warning the quality of vehicle repairs may drop as IAG opens its own panel beating shop under a new trial.

The new model proposed by the company, which in New Zealand includes Lumley, NZI, State and AMI, would see its customers required to have their vehicle repaired at an IAG-owned repairer.

Neil Pritchard, General Manager of the Collision Repair Association (CRA), has branded the move anti-competitive and says it signals the erosion of consumer choice and competition in the industry.

“Our concern is that under a model where the insurer dictates the standard and scope of the repair, there will be no oversight in place to protect the consumer,” said Pritchard. “Even seemingly minor or cosmetic repairs to modern vehicles may have underlying damage to sensitive radar and sensors, requiring specialist expertise and equipment to diagnose and effect suitable repairs, and it is important that motorists have a resolution structure in place which provides a degree of independence in the event of any issues.”

Pritchard says customers may also find their new vehicle warranties are voided if repairs are not made at an approved repairer, especially if genuine parts are not used.

“While the Consumer Guarantees Act will remain as a potential means of redress, the prospect of facing their insurer in a disputes tribunal hearing will be off-putting for many motorists. It is also unclear what happens if a customer has a poor service interaction with an IAG repair shop and whether they will be forced to use it again in the future if they remain with that insurer.”

Pritchard says there are also potential concerns around how this move will be communicated to customers.

“Existing customers of IAG may see the fine print of their terms and conditions simply adjusted when it comes to their annual renewal. New customers may be required to ‘opt-out’ when applying for insurance for the first time or face higher premiums,” he says.

Pritchard says IAG’s claims that the new venture is necessary due to processing delays in the current repair network is only a smokescreen for the introduction of a purely profit-driven strategy.

“This model is rare overseas, and the move to become more vertically integrated here is purely profit-driven and at the expense of consumer choice. Our concern is that New Zealand consumers are being used as part of a trial which could then be expanded into their other markets through IAG Australia. We would like to see the insurer working more closely with existing repairers to help reduce repair times and communication with customers.”

Henkel, Carbon Revolution Join Forces

Henkel has reached a supply agreement with Carbon Revolution, a privately-owned Australian manufacturer of one-piece automotive carbon composite wheels. The collaboration includes dedicated manufacturing facilities, which Henkel will invest in, to be established at the company’s existing plant near Melbourne.

“Based on a number of years of close collaboration with Carbon Revolution, we have extended our proven portfolio of composite material technologies to create proprietary solutions that meet the demanding performance specifications of the global car makers,” said Konrad Brimo Hayek, Senior Business Development Manager for automotive components at Henkel. “The collaboration with Carbon Revolution is targeted at providing various global OEM carbon wheel programmes with the best solutions available and includes active support from Henkel via dual production capacities in the EU and locally in Australia.”

Carbon Revolution says its carbon fibre composite wheels are now used on some of the world’s most prestigious sports cars. The reductions in unsprung rotational mass translate into vehicle handling benefits, from better steering feel and traction to improved accelerating and braking response.

“As light-weighting components, carbon wheels can make a significant contribution to minimising the energy consumed when spinning the wheels up and dragging them back down every time the car is accelerated or slowed,” said Brett Gass, Chief Technology Officer at Carbon Revolution. “This saves fuel on combustion engine vehicles and battery power on hybrid and fully electric vehicles, maximising their range. Henkel’s advanced material technology also adds to the overall reduction of our carbon wheels in noise, vibration and harshness when compared to steel or aluminium wheels, which means automakers can save weight on additional sound insulation.”

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.”

Axalta Appoints Jim Muse VP Refinish For EMEA

Axalta has announced the appointment of Jim Muse as Vice President of Refinish Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), succeeding Adrien Schrobiltgen in this role.

Muse first joined Axalta in 2013 as part of the North American refinish leadership team and was awarded the Axalta senior leadership award in 2015 for his contributions to the company. In his most recent role as Vice President of Global Refinish Sales, Muse led the organisation’s global customer base and was responsible for key American strategic accounts.

“I am delighted to welcome Jim to the region,” said Yves Kerstens, Vice President Axalta and President for EMEA. “His continued commitment to commercial excellence coupled with his success in playing a lead role in building and executing a new go-to-market strategy in North America makes him a great fit for this role. I am confident that with his vast knowledge of the refinish industry and his excellent leadership skills, he will be instrumental in continuing to grow the business in our region.”

Schrobiltgen is leaving the company to pursue opportunities outside the coatings industry after more than 34 years with Axalta. “We thank Adrien for his immense contribution to the organisation and wish him all the very best with his new endeavours.” said Kerstens.

Muse is based in Axalta’s EMEA headquarters in Basel, Switzerland.

Axalta Named Strategic Partner Of Rheinmetall Defence

Axalta has been named a strategic partner of Rheinmetall Defence for its Land 400 Phase 2 project. Axalta says that under the new contract, it will provide the global Boxer supply chain for coatings, application training and technical support to optimise their painting operations.

The Land 400 Phase 2 project involves delivering 211 Boxer wheeled 8×8 Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles to replace the Australian Army’s light armoured vehicles.

“Axalta is extremely proud to continue our strong relationship with Rheinmetall,” said Michael Busch, OEM and Military Program Manager at Axalta. “Axalta’s continued focus on the most technologically advanced and innovative coatings aligns perfectly with the Rheinmetall Boxer CRV. The delivery this September of the first unit is a significant milestone and represents only the start of our work together on this exciting project.

“Axalta has been working with Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles Australia (RMMVA) since 2015 and has consistently demonstrated an ability to develop customised product solutions for defence projects. In addition to providing special end-use coatings, Axalta’s technology included application techniques designed to improve cycle times and coating productivity.”

With painted components originating from numerous Australian and global locations, Axalta said its ability to assess site capabilities, design customised training, implement strict quality controls and establish efficient supply chains has ensured these cutting-edge military vehicles are delivered just as the Australian Defence Force had envisaged. Throughout the development of the Boxer CRV, Axalta formed part of the partnership between the Commonwealth, Rheinmetall and other SME partners to deliver the first Boxer ahead of schedule.

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).

Mahindra, Ford Announce Joint Venture For India, Emerging Markets

Mahindra & Mahindra Limited and Ford Motor Company have signed an agreement to create a joint venture that will develop, market and distribute Ford brand vehicles in India. The same will also be done for both vehicle brands in high-growth emerging markets around the world.

The joint venture will see Mahindra owning a 51 per cent controlling stake and Ford owning the remaining 49 per cent. Ford will transfer its India operations to the joint venture, including its personnel and assembly plants in Chennai and Sanand. Ford will retain its engine plant operations in Sanand as well as the Global Business Services unit, Ford Credit and Ford Smart Mobility.

The joint venture is expected to be operational by mid-2020, dependent on regulatory approvals. The joint venture will be operationally managed by Mahindra and will be equally composed of representatives of both companies.

Ford branded vehicles will be distributed through the already established India dealer network and Mahindra will continue to operate its own independent dealer network in India.

“Mahindra and Ford coming together is a testament to the long history of cooperation and mutual respect between the two companies,” said Anand Mahindra, Chairman of Mahindra Group. “Our combined strengths, Mahindra’s expertise in value-focused engineering and its successful operating model, and Ford’s technical expertise, global reach and access to future technology, are a potent recipe for success. At its core, the partnership will be driven by the shared values of both companies, which are focused on caring for our customers, associates and our communities.”

“Ford and Mahindra have a long history of working together, and we are proud to partner with them to grow the Ford brand in India,” said Bill Ford, Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company. “We remain deeply committed to our employees, dealers and suppliers, and this new era of collaboration will allow us to deliver more vehicles to consumers in this important market.”

“At Ford, our purpose for 116 years has always been to drive human progress, and that won’t change,” said Jim Hackett, Ford President and CEO. “But to continue to do that, we need to evolve with new and faster ways of not only delighting our customers around the world but also solving their very different needs. Strong alliances like this play a crucial role in assuring we continue to achieve our vision, while at the same time staying competitive and delivering value to our global stakeholders.”

The joint venture expects to introduce three new utility vehicles under the Ford brand, beginning with a new midsize sports utility, while another area of focus will be electric vehicles.

Exports today form about 7 per cent of Mahindra’s vehicle business revenues and its products are exported to South Africa, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Chile, among other nations and areas.

“Emerging economies including India are expected to account for one in three future vehicle sales,” said Dr. Pawan Goenka, Managing Director, Mahindra & Mahindra Limited. “The joint venture will have a distinct product portfolio with shared platforms and powertrains, the newest technology, high quality and engineering standards from both Mahindra and Ford, at optimised costs. This winning combination will enable the joint venture to successfully position its vehicles in India, as well as unlock the potential of other highly competitive emerging markets.”

“The creation of this joint venture is a pivotal moment in both our companies’ histories,” said Jim Farley, President of Ford New Businesses, Technology & Strategy. “Strong alliances such as this play a crucial role for Ford to compete profitably in the high-volume, affordable vehicle segments so popular with our diverse customer base. By combining our respective talents, we will offer more vehicles to more customers in more places than ever before and deliver profitable growth to both Ford and Mahindra.”

Ford said its newly established International Markets Group (IMG) business unit brings together 100 high-potential, emerged and emerging markets including India, Australia, the ASEAN, the Middle East, Africa and Russia.

Suncorp Sells Capital S.M.A.R.T, ACM Parts To AMA Group

Suncorp has announced the signing of a binding agreement to sell 90 per cent of its interest in Capital S.M.A.R.T to collision repair company AMA Group for $420 million.

Suncorp will retain a 10 per cent interest in the business and a seat on the subsidiary board.

Group CEO, Steve Johnston, said the transaction was in the best interests of customers, shareholders and the business.

“The increasing complexity of repairs is driving significant change in the smash repair and parts procurement industry, and the divestment means Suncorp can focus on its core Insurance and Banking operations,” said Johnston. “Importantly, the agreement maintains Suncorp’s competitive advantage and we look forward to working closely with AMA as an ongoing partner.”

Suncorp also announced the complete sale of its automotive parts supplier, ACM Parts, to AMA for $20 million.

The transactions are expected to complete by 31 October 2019.

Uni-Select Announces Sale Of ProColor Franchise To Fix Auto

Uni-Select Inc., a leader in the distribution of automotive refinish and industrial paint and related products in North America, announced it has completed the sale of its ProColor franchise programme to Fix Auto.

“Since Uni-Select launched the ProColor banner in Québec in 2001, the network grew from 28 to 172 collision repair shops,” said Brent Windom, President and Chief Executive Officer of Uni-Select. “I wish to extend our gratitude to the ProColor team members who worked with us during the past 18 years and contributed to establish ProColor’s clear leadership position in the Québec market. Fix Auto has a strong global network and a solid reputation in the auto repair industry, especially in the Canadian market, and we are excited that ProColor will continue to grow under their umbrella.”

ProColor will complement Fix Auto’s operations in Québec and the Uni-Select network said it is committed to continuing to support ProColor and furthering expanded growth throughout Canada through a long-term supply partnership agreement.

Uni-Select has also entered into a transition agreement with Fix Auto to ensure an orderly and smooth transition for team members, customers and suppliers.