Fix Network And Spanesi In Global Partnership

Fix Network has announced the addition of collision repair equipment leader Spanesi as one of its official global supply partners this month.

Fix Network says it believes that strong supplier partnerships are a critical component to the successful expansion of its network worldwide, and as it grows its operations, working with Spanesi will bring tremendous value through their expertise and advanced collision repair equipment.

Spanesi will supply a mix of its collision repair equipment, custom-made furnishings and accessories all aimed at delivering great performance. Fix Network says Spanesi’s quality and productivity aligns well with its goal of making the best in collision repair equipment technology available to each of its locations.

“The Fix Network team works tirelessly to deliver a consistent, high quality supply chain offering to its network members,” said Steve Leal, President & CEO of Fix Network. “The addition of the Spanesi suite of equipment will support us in our ongoing objective to provide an attractive, clean and efficient environment to our locations which will help to elevate the overall customer experience.”

“We have a 50-year long tradition in delivering tools and experience to help repairers succeed in an increasingly competitive collision repair marketplace,” said Cristina Spanesi, Export and Marketing Manager of Spanesi. “We are pleased to align with the Fix Network family of brands and are looking forward to a fruitful partnership.”

Fix Network’s supply chain portfolio of industry experts now includes 3M, AkzoNobel, Mirka, SATA and Spanesi – each a leader in the global automotive aftermarket space.

AAAA: Mitsubishi Pajero Recall Compromises Safety

Mitsubishi Motors Australia has issued an urgent recall on its NX-series Pajero via the Australian Competition Consumer Commission, affecting 6384 Pajero models built between 2017 and 2018.

According to Mitsubishi, “inadequate” welding strength increases the likelihood of the front driver’s side suspension lower control arm failing. If the control arm fails, the steering may not operate, increasing the chance of an accident.

Mitsubishi has advised that it will contact owners via postal mail to bring their Pajero into a Mitsubishi dealership to be repaired free of charge. However, the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) believes this recall serves as an example of how safety is being compromised for vehicle owners.

“It’s interesting to note how Mitsubishi, which is one of the least cooperative manufacturers in sharing important vehicle servicing data to independent workshops, is handling this significant and potentially dangerous vehicle manufacturing fault,” said Stuart Charity, CEO of the AAAA. “We have a situation where an ACCC notice and a letter in the mailbox are the only methods undertaken by the manufacturer to ensure affected vehicles are brought in for repair quickly.

“With a mandatory data sharing scheme in place, the Mitsubishi Pajero recall would allow independent workshops servicing these vehicles to have immediate access to the VIN numbers of Pajeros affected, so owners can be informed to take their vehicle back to Mitsubishi.”

The AAAA says another example of how a mandatory data scheme would increase road user safety and benefit manufacturers is the ongoing Takata airbag recall.

“A mandatory data sharing scheme would enable all safety and recall campaigns to quickly reach a much higher percentage of affected vehicles [and] models that are being serviced by independent workshops across the country, which would enable potentially dangerous faults to be fixed sooner.”

According to the AAAA, the benefit for manufacturers comes from the ability to rectify dangerous faults in a reduced timeframe, saving dealerships and the manufacturers significant costs. For road users, less vehicles with faults results in increased safety for everyone.

“We are working closely with Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar on a mandatory data sharing scheme and we are confident a positive outcome can be achieved,” said Charity.

The AAAA has provided a list of the recalled Pajero VIN numbers here.

Suncorp Makes Acting CEO Permanent

Suncorp has appointed acting CEO Steve Johnston as the new permanent head of the company.

Chairman Christine McLoughlin says Suncorp weighed the merits of global and local candidates before confirming Johnston as CEO and Managing Director.

Johnston was Chief Financial Officer until May, when he switched roles following previous CEO Michael Cameron’s sudden exit.

Announcing an 83.5 per cent fall in full-year profit last month, Johnston admitted his predecessor’s so-called ‘marketplace strategy’ had confused customers and halted its rollout to refocus on banking and insurance.

Deputy Chief Financial Officer Jeremy Robson, who has been acting CFO since May, will continue in the role while Suncorp considers internal and external candidates.

I-CAR Announces Gold Class For Spencer Panels

I-CAR Australia has announced that Spencer Panels in South Melbourne, Victoria has been awarded I-CAR Gold Class Collision status.

“As a Certified Holden Repairer, Spencer Panels entered into the Road to Gold programme 12 months ago with I-CAR,” said Gary Wood, I-CAR Australia Gold Class Coordinator. “They have been regular participants in live and virtual training sessions to meet the Gold Class training requirements. It is credit to all involved that they have achieved the Gold Class accreditation in the timeframe set out by Holden.

“Along with their values of quality and safety, Gold Class will complement the OEM-specific training Spencer Panels are committed to with the multiple badges they hold.”

“Initially the task of becoming an I-CAR Gold Class repairer seemed too difficult and a lot of extra work on top of day-to-day activities,” said David Truccolo, owner of Spencer Panels. “Having now achieved Gold Class Status, I can say that the process was rewarding.

“Not only have we increased the knowledge base of our workforce, but our workers have learnt extra things in the fields they have been working in for years, welding in particular.”

Euro NCAP Awards Five-Star Ratings To Seven Vehicles

Euro NCAP has awarded five-star safety ratings to seven car models: Mercedes-Benz’s first electric car, the EQC, along with its second generation CLA; Škoda’s Kamiq; the fourth generation SsangYong Korando; BMW’s latest Z4; and the new Audi A1. In addition, the Ford Focus – already tested in 2018 – has been reassessed after minor updates and achieved a five-star rating too.

The C-segment Korando SUV is the first five-star car from SsangYong and comes standard with automated emergency braking (AEB), bringing it into line with its competitors.

The Škoda Kamiq is essentially a high-riding Scala, and shares a five-star rating and similar results to the car tested earlier this year.

The Mercedes-Benz EQC achieved good all-round performance during testing as part of its five-star rating.

The latest Mercedes-Benz CLA scored higher than 90 per cent in three of the four areas of safety assessed by Euro NCAP.

BMW’s two-seater Z4 roadster scored well all-round, but its protection of vulnerable road users was especially impressive with an active bonnet that lifts when a pedestrian is hit.

Audi’s A1 performed well in safety tests, featuring its Pre Sense Front technology as standard fit in its AEB system.

Finally, the Ford Focus achieved five stars in 2018, but its front-seat whiplash protection meant it could now capitalise on good results for its AEB system. Ford has improved the design of the seats and head restraints and the car now demonstrates good whiplash protection in rear-end collisions.

Fix Network Announces Global Partnership With SATA

Fix Network World has added SATA as one of its official global supply partners. Fix Network says it hopes to continue expanding its operations worldwide in order to build stronger partnerships with industry-leading suppliers.

SATA says it will supply Fix Network with a mix of its systems aimed at delivering industry-leading performance.

“Fix Network is working hard to deliver a quality supply chain offering to its members,” said Steve Leal, President & CEO of Fix Network World. “This global agreement with SATA is reflective of our ongoing objective to provide best in class, safe solutions to our locations so they can provide an elite experience for their customers.”

“SATA is committed to supporting the fundamentally changing collision industry with state-of-the-art paint application solutions, thus contributing to professional and safe repairs,” said Albrecht Kruse, CEO of SATA. “Our cooperation with the global Fix Network goes hand in hand with our mission to assist the industry in best adapting to the ever-increasing complexities of modern repair processes.”

SATA will become the fourth aftermarket specialist to join Fix Network’s supply chain partnerships, which currently include 3M, AkzoNobel and Mirka.

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.”

Volkswagen do Brasil Develops Its First Vehicle For Overseas Markets

Volkswagen do Brasil will develop a vehicle completely in-house to be produced later in Europe and sold in other international markets.

Volkswagen hopes to strengthen the economic significance of Volkswagen do Brasil with the regionalisation of the South American market. Through 2020, Volkswagen is investing approximately R$7 billion in Brazil for the development of new products, digitalisation and technological innovations and began in 2016. This is based on a restructuring program introduced by Volkswagen to support business opportunities in the South American market.

“The internationalisation of Volkswagen began 60 years ago with construction of the plant in Anchieta, Brazil,” said Ralf Brandstaetter, Chief Operating Officer of Volkswagen Passenger Cars. “South America has been an important market for Volkswagen ever since. We are strengthening our regionalisation strategy with these investments.”

Under its regionalisation strategy, the company launched a product offensive with 20 new models for Brazil as the key market in the region.

“For the first time in our history, we will be offering our very own vehicle concept on the international market, and sharing design, technology and know-how from Brazil with the world,” said Pablo Di Si, President and CEO of Volkswagen Latin America.

The vehicle premiere is planned for spring 2020. Production will commence at the Anchieta plant in the same year and the vehicle will also be built in Europe from 2021.

Canadian Body Shop Uses Symach In New Location

Symach has announced that CARSTAR Fredericton in New Brunswick, Canada has opened a new location utilising Symach’s complete body shop solution.

“When you make a deal with Symach, you’re not just buying body shop equipment,” said Steve Knox, General Manager of CARSTAR Fredericton. “You are buying an entirely different business model.”

“Symach equipment is designed to drastically reduce the cost of repairs and increase efficiency,” said Osvaldo Bergaglio, CEO of Symach. “We helped CARSTAR Fredericton set up a new body shop using the FixLine repair process, which will help the business increase throughput and reduce labour cost per repair.”

CARSTAR Fredericton operates two locations and is owned by Roy Kennedy. Since installing the Symach equipment at the new location in July, Knox said they’ve already experienced more efficiency at the repair facility.

“One of the biggest benefits is time,” said Knox. “A conventional shop might schedule two-and-a-half to three days to complete a 10- to 11-hour job. With Symach equipment, that same vehicle can now be repaired by lunchtime the day it’s dropped off.

“It’s not through harder work or more labour-intensive ways of doing things, but through the smart use of their equipment. It’s incredible.”

Knox said that cars built today are not the same as the ones built 20 or 30 years ago. Because they are so much more sophisticated, he said it’s important to set up a repair facility that can meet those needs, and Symach equipment has helped them do that.

The CARSTAR Fredericton team said that they are impressed with Symach’s SprayTron paint booth as it helps pull everything through the paint booth instead of having everything pushed toward the booth.

“The SprayTron is one of the industry’s newest generations of spray booths on the market,” said Bergaglio. “It is high-performing, automated and it is built with the best burner, the best fans and the best material available. It can work as a conventional spray booth using hot air from the burner or with radiant waves using a robot and will typically produce 8-10 paint cycles per day.”

“When you deal with Symach, they build a shop that is so visually beautiful that you want every customer to come in through the back door, rather than the front,” said Knox. “It’s gorgeous; it looks like a showroom of their equipment but at the same time, it’s our actually functioning shop!”

Every stall has its own hoist that is flush with the floor. When it is raised, the car is at chest-level, so technicians no longer have to kneel during a repair.

“Many of the older guys in this industry have problems with their knees and backs,” said Knox. “The Symach equipment allows technicians to work at a comfortable level so this is no longer an issue.”

Over the last month, the team has been in training mode and becoming more comfortable with the equipment and the business flow.

“I can see now why those shops we talked to have that outlook,” said Knox. “It’s true. Everything Symach’s marketing says it can do, it can.”

Tesla Launches Tesla Insurance In California

Tesla Insurance was launched in the USA and is designed to provide Tesla owners with between 20 to 30 per cent lower rates.

Tesla Insurance Services, which offers the product for the car company, says it offers comprehensive coverage and claims management to support its customers in California, and it will expand to additional US states in the future.

“We are creating a Tesla insurance product and we hope to launch that in about a month,” said Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, in April. “It will be much more compelling than anything else out there.”

Tesla says it is able to leverage the advanced technology, safety, and serviceability of its cars to provide insurance at a lower cost, as the company knows its own vehicles best. The insurance pricing reflects the benefits of Tesla’s active safety and advanced driver assistance features that come standard on all new Tesla vehicles.

Tesla owners in California can purchase a policy by visiting www.tesla.com/insurance.