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.

Fix Auto Australia Expands Into QLD

Fix Auto said it has appointed Claydon Panel Works as its first strategic partner in Queensland. Having operated in Mackay for over 25 years, Fix Auto said that the panel shop has established a strong reputation for delivering the highest levels of quality and service to its insurer and private customers alike.

“Joining Fix Auto was a critical part of our desire to implement change in our business to ensure we can continue to thrive in a rapidly changing industry,” said Marty Wheeler, Director at Claydon Panel Works. “We wanted to join a group of like-minded business owners to promote high quality repairs and drive standards in excellence such as I-CAR training. Added value from maximising the group buying potentials on offer with leading global suppliers provides even greater value to the model.

“I was extremely excited about the rebranding of the business and a whole new visual presence of our facility. It is going to look great and provide an outstanding environment for our staff and customers alike.”

“Claydon Panel Works, who will now trade as Fix Auto Mackay, are the perfect fit for our business,” said Scott Holden, Fix Auto Head of Sales for QLD & NSW. “They have the passion and enthusiasm to deliver at the highest level and they embrace the changes needed to thrive in a consolidating industry that is under increasing pressure from all sides. Andrew, Marty and the whole team in Mackay represent the very best of our industry and we are delighted to have them as our latest partner.”

CIECA Announces New November 2019 Webinar

CIECA has announced its next CIECAst webinar: “This Changes Everything: The Impact of New Technologies on the Auto Physical Damage & Claims Ecosystem – What Repairers and Other Collision Industry Stakeholders Need to Know”.

The webinar will run for one hour on Tuesday 12 November at 11 am CST and will feature Stephen Applebaum, Managing Partner of Insurance Solutions Group.

Applebaum will share his subject matter expertise and insights into the business disruption being experienced by participants across the entire vehicle insurance ecosystem. It will include insurance carriers, collision repairers and all the supply chain partners and customers.

“Today, like never before in the history of our industry, change is constant and accelerating and trying to understand and keep up with the changes is challenging,” said Applebaum. “Harder still is predicting the future and how to plan for it and continue to succeed and grow.”

CIECA says Applebaum is a frequent chairman, guest speaker and panellist at Insurance Nexus North America and other industry conferences, while contributing to major insurance industry publications. The company says he has a passion for coaching, mentoring, business process innovation and constructive transformation, applying disruptive technology, and managing organisational change in the North American property/casualty insurance industry and trading partner communities.

To register for the CIECAst, click here.

Following the CIECAst webinar, attendees will be able to take a short quiz to earn credit toward a professional designation from the Automotive Management Institute (AMi).

Novus Glass Rebranding Australian Locations

Novus Glass, an independent automotive glass repair and replacement business, is underway with rebranding its Australian locations in line with its recently-introduced Global Brands Standards programme.

Novus Glass says its flagship store in Malaga, WA, is the latest to have undergone a transformation for its branding and is now noticing a difference in the look and feel.

“This new look is such a contrast to our previous branding,” said Phil Bailey, Head of Sales and Marketing, Novus WA. “In the past we relied on a bold colour scheme to attract the eye, which it did very well for many years, but now we achieve even greater and more striking results through these clean lines and strong identity which are much more modern and in keeping with retail branding today. Customers love it and even the staff comment how great it looks every day when they arrive at work.”

The company said the rebranding exercise is just a component of its brand resurgence in Australia, with new locations and an expanding footprint to help Novus provide improved coverage and customer service.

“Novus has always had a strong reputation for service and quality,” said Stuart Faid, Regional Vice President Asia, Australia & New Zealand, Fix Network. “As the inventors of windscreen repair in 1972, we have always focused on delivering the highest levels of service and convenience to our customers. By giving the brand a more modern context, it better represents our focus on innovation, technology, tools and equipment and helps us better convey that focus to our customers. Lloyd, Phil and the whole team in Malaga have done an outstanding job of the rebranding and they deliver the customer experience to match it too.”

Fix Network is the parent company of Novus and collision repair network Fix Auto.

SEMA Sues US Department of Transportation

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) has filed a petition in the US federal court system to require the government to allow replica car manufacturers to immediately begin production.

Under a 2015 law, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), low-volume car manufacturers may sell up to 325 replica cars each year that resemble production vehicles manufactured at least 25 years ago. The FAST Act set a deadline of 4 December 2016 for the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue any necessary regulations to implement the law. According to SEMA, the agency has yet to take any action.

Prior to enactment of the FAST Act, the United States had just one system for regulating automobiles, which was established in the 1960s and designed for companies that mass-produce millions of vehicles. SEMA said the lack of regulatory flexibility prevented small businesses from manufacturing turn-key vehicles, with many companies making capital investments and taking customer orders on the assumption that sales could begin in late 2016, as they were eager to produce replica vehicles under the new law. However, SEMA claims that the NHTSA has failed to issue regulations or undertake any other action allowing the small car manufacturers to produce and sell vehicles as permitted by law.

“SEMA warned NHTSA in 2018 that it would file suit if companies could not begin production of turnkey cars as authorised by the FAST Act,” said Christopher J. Kersting, SEMA President and CEO. “SEMA has made every effort to work collaboratively with NHTSA for over three and a half years, although the agency has taken no action to implement the replica car law. Consequently, companies have not hired workers, businesses have lost money, and consumers have been denied their rights to purchase replica cars.”

SEMA said vehicles produced under the FAST Act will be current model-year clean cars – the US Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board have developed guidelines and regulations to confirm that the engine packages to be installed will meet current emissions standards.

The association added that the replica car provision was designed to be easy for NHTSA to implement, as it is an extension of the common-sense approach to overseeing kit car production that the agency has employed for decades. While the FAST Act requires NHTSA to “issue such regulations as may be necessary” to implement the law, SEMA said the agency also has other options such as issuing a guidance document that will allow production to begin immediately. SEMA has asked the court to compel the NHTSA to take action.

Kia Launches Seltos Compact SUV

Kia has confirmed that the Seltos will be available in Australia with high levels of technology, safety and an eye-catching design. Australia is the third major market where the Seltos will be available, coming after Korea and India.

“There has been a space in our product line-up for this car for longer than we would have ideally liked,” said Damien Meredith, Kia Motors Australia Chief Operating Officer. “However, despite being a little late to the party we are confident that the Seltos is the right car for the market and has the potential to be the belle of the ball.

“The Seltos is not only stylish but brings practical, useable size along with great technology, safety and value in a segment-leading package which also benefits from Kia’s industry-best 7-Year Warranty, 7-Year Capped Price Service and 7-Year Roadside assistance program.”

“The Seltos is an important car for Kia as it will play a central role in our international growth,” said Han-Woo Park, Kia Motors President and CEO. “Global sales of compact (small) SUVs are forecast to expand from 6.5 million vehicles in 2018 to more than 8.2 million by the end of 2022, and the Seltos brings Kia strengths in design, quality and technology to this popular segment. In the Seltos, we have created a car that can fulfil the diverse needs of customers in markets all around the world.

“Aimed at youthful, tech-savvy buyers, with a striking design inside and out, the car is also packed full of our most cutting-edge technology and safety equipment.”

For Australia, the Seltos will be available in four specification levels: S, Sport, Sport+ and GT Line. S, Sport and Sport+ front-wheel drive will be powered by a four-cylinder 2.0-litre petrol engine producing 110kW and 180Nm and coupled with a continuously variable transmission. Sport+ and GT Line all-wheel drive will feature a 1.6T-GDI turbo petrol engine producing 130kW and 265Nm, mated to a 7-speed dual clutch transmission.

An optional $1000 safety pack will be available for the S and Sport models. The optional safety pack includes autonomous emergency braking, “advanced smart cruise control”, “driver attention alert+”, electric parking brake, electric folding mirrors, auto up and down driver’s window and 15-inch rear disc brakes.

The Seltos will be available in Starbright Yellow, which is its standard colour, and premium colours Neptune Blue, Gravity Grey, Mars Orange, Snow White Pearl, Steel Grey and Cherry Black, which are all available for $520.

The Seltos will be available drive away from $25,990 and will be on sale from 25 October.

Automotive Colour & Equipment Opens New Store In Newcastle

Automotive Colour & Equipment (ACE), a part of the SAPE group of companies that distributes vehicle paints, body supplies and repair equipment, has opened a new, relocated store at Cameron Park in Newcastle.

ACE says the 600 square-metre warehouse, office and retail showroom provide an operating platform for expansion in the region and an enhanced shopping experience for the customer.

“The brand-new development is strategically located close to the M1 Pacific Motorway and Newcastle Link Road, enabling our operation to service more customers in Newcastle, the Hunter and beyond,” said Paul McMartin, SAPE Group Director. “We are proud to have been a part of the Novacastrian community for the better part of 30 years and we owe our customers a lot for helping us build our business and new facility.

“We are thrilled that our move to a newer, roomier warehouse means we can boost this side of the business further, by providing customers with exceptional service across all channels including supply, support and service.”

Euro NCAP Awards Safety Ratings For BMW, Peugeot And Jeep

Euro NCAP has published safety ratings for four vehicles. The BMW 1 Series and 3 Series both achieved the maximum five-star rating, while the Jeep Cherokee and Peugeot 208 both received a four-star rating.

The BMW 1 Series score in adult occupant protection would have been higher, but “the front seat” fell short of a Good rating for whiplash protection. The German car company’s other entrant, the 3 Series, was tested in 7th generation guise, with Euro NCAP saying it now has the best safety performance of all large family cars tested by Euro NCAP against the 2018/2019 protocols.

“It’s good to see the premium brands, from Germany and elsewhere, maintaining the very high standards they have set for themselves and continuing to achieve five-star ratings,” said Michiel van Ratingen, Secretary General, Euro NCAP. “I’m sure that BMW’s customers can be confident that the company will continue to strive for the highest standards of safety, even as our protocols get tougher and tougher.”

The Peugeot 208 narrowly missed out on a five-star rating, meeting all requirements except the protection of road users. The previous-generation vehicle had a five-star rating and offered less standard safety technology, but was tested against less stringent requirements in 2012.

The Jeep Cherokee sits firmly on a four-star rating with good but unexceptional performance across the board, but a huge improvement over its larger stablemate, the Wrangler, which was tested last year.

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.”