VACC Says Most Automotive Businesses Are Open

According to the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC), which represents over 5000 members, the majority of automotive businesses across the country remain open.

“Car, motorcycle and farm machinery dealerships; automotive repair workshops; body repair businesses; tyre dealerships: everything automotive is open and thousands of businesses remain ready to service the needs of Australian motorists,” said Geoff Gwilym, CEO of the VACC.

The one exception is public vehicle auctions, which continue to deliver their services online.

“In the midst of major business closures and hibernations across many sectors, most automotive-related businesses have decided to remain open, and at the same time have adapted to suit these difficult times,” said Gwylim. “Automotive businesses have access to the Chamber’s comprehensive suite of information and support services, meaning they are up-to-date with the latest safety measures, including correct hygiene procedures and social distancing measures.”

The VACC says businesses have put measures in place to protect customers and staff, offering contactless services to provide a safer environment.

Contactless services being offered include:

  • Key drop-off box facilities
  • Contactless payment, including tap and go, online banking and over the phone payments
  • Emailing of quotes and invoices
  • Repair order authorisation via SMS or email
  • Offering taxis or Ubers instead of courtesy cars
  • Pickup and delivery of vehicles
  • Correct vehicle sanitation before and after service

“The automotive industry is open for business,” said Gwylim. “So whether Australians want to purchase a vehicle, or service and maintain the vehicle they already own, their local automotive business is ready and equipped to provide the best and safest service possible.”

Automechanika Dubai Rescheduled To October 2020

Automechanika Dubai, the Middle East and Africa’s largest trade fair for the automotive service industry, has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 18th edition of the event will now take place from 19 to 21 October 2020 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

“We stand united with the entire automotive aftermarket industry as we navigate these challenging times,” said Mahmut Gazi Bilikozen, Show Director for Automechanika Dubai. “Automechanika Dubai is truly a global event, and the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 meant potentially thousands of stakeholders are limited in their ability to plan ahead and attend the show at its original dates in June.

“Confirming the new dates proved particularly challenging on account of the show’s size, coupled with a very busy events schedule at the venue toward the end of the year, however we’re confident we’ve settled on a date that is most suitable for all stakeholders.

“Now, more than ever, it’s important for the automotive aftermarket to come together and ensure business continuity. As passionate advocates for the social and economic benefits of meeting face-to-face at events, we’re committed to staging another successful show in October.

“Our first priority is also to the health and wellbeing of our exhibitors and visitors. We’re therefore taking the sensible precautionary response, while carefully watching and taking the advice of the relevant local and global authorities. We’re working hard to ensure that all the appropriate health and safety measures will be in place for the show later this year.”

Organisers say this year’s event will showcase several exciting elements such as the Automechanika Academy, the Modern Workshop, and the Innovation Zone, which will keep the many thousands of trade buyers and industry professionals in tune with new market developments.

The Innovation Zone is a dedicated area at the centre of the show floor featuring presentations and product showcases from exhibitors that are steering the course for the regional and global automotive aftermarket.

Other features include the Truck Competence initiative, which exhibits the entire value chain in the truck sector, from truck parts and accessories, to workshop equipment, body repairs and care.

The Automechanika Academy will feature presentations such as Dubai’s automotive parts and accessories trade in 2019 by Dubai Customs, as well as AfriConnections, which explores rising opportunities in the African aftermarket.

More information is available here.

WSA Postpones 2020 National Championships & Skills Show

WorldSkills Australia (WSA) has decided to postpone the National Championships & Skills Show 2020 due to the coronavirus and COVID-19.

Instead, the event will be moved to Thursday 29 April until Saturday 1 May 2021, with the closing ceremony to be held on the evening of Sunday 2 May 2021. It will be hosted at the Penrith Convention and Exhibition Centre in Sydney, NSW.

International competitors will be invited to compete to assist with the final selection process for the 2021 Skillaroos, where they will represent Australia at the upcoming 46th WorldSkills International Championships.

Key Dates In 2021

  • 28 April: Familiarisation and opening ceremony
  • 29 April – 1 May: Competition dates
  • 2 May: Closing ceremony

WSA said it understands that the decision will be disappointing for many, but believes that the decision is in the best interests of everyone involved in the event. The company gave its appreciation for the understanding and support of the WorldSkills Australia community, encouraged people to follow all government guidelines to maintain health and wellbeing, and said it looks forward to seeing everyone in 2021.

WorldSkills Australia will release more information in the lead up to the event over the coming months.

Ford Launches ‘Pick-Up And Drop Off’ Service

Ford Australia is now offering a new service called Ford Pick Up and Drop Off, a complimentary vehicle pick-up and drop off solution for when customers’ cars need servicing or warranty repair during the COVID-19 emergency.

The initiative is designed to make life easier for Australian customers during this time so they can focus on other things, knowing their vehicle is serviced and ready when they need it.

“The Ford Pick Up and Drop Off service provides our service customers the reassurance they can get necessary vehicle work completed without leaving home, and the peace of mind that their vehicle is disinfected afterwards,” said Kay Hart, President and CEO, Ford Australia and New Zealand. “We’re pleased to be working with our dealers to find ways to ensure customers can continue to enjoy uninterrupted and safe services during this time.”

The service will initially be available at participating dealers until 30 June 2020 and incorporates three main elements:

  • Pick up and drop off for a customer’s vehicle when they book in a service or warranty repair
  • Disinfection of key touch points of the customer’s vehicle
  • Wide availability of cashless payment options

 “We’re pleased to be able to offer extra convenience and peace of mind to customers during this difficult time,” said John Cooper, Chairman of the Ford Australia National Dealer Council. “These new services build on the strict hygiene and sanitation processes we’ve built in across the network.”

The disinfection process will involve thoroughly sanitising the interior and exterior surfaces of the vehicle. Major touch points will include:

  • All exterior and interior door handles
  • Steering wheel (including buttons)
  • Centre console
  • Gear shifter/selector (dial or handle)
  • Park brake handle
  • Radio/HVAC areas
  • Touchscreen
  • Engine start/stop button
  • Driver’s door armrest and centre console
  • Window/seat/mirror controls
  • Rear view mirror
  • Seatbelt buckle and anchor
  • Rear boot lid tailgate button/handle
  • Bonnet and latch
  • Fuel door
  • Key fob

Ford Australia says the dealer disinfection process includes an alcohol-based cleaner that is an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral agent, which quickly and thoroughly sanitises hard surfaces without damaging plastics, elastomers and rubbers. These measures are designed to help ensure that participating Ford dealership staff and customers are protected, as well as customers’ vehicle paint and interior trims.

AAAA Welcomes COVID-19 Stimulus Programmes

The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) has congratulated the government for its stimulus and financial support package for COVID-19, designed to support all businesses in the automotive supply chain.

“These payments are going to make a remarkable difference to our industry,” said Stuart Charity, CEO of the AAAA. “We have modelled these programmes to simulate the benefit for our members and for many, it’s going to mean the difference between surviving this crisis and shutting the doors permanently.”

The AAAA says it performed analysis which shows that for an average automotive workshop of five to six people, the stimulus packages are going to deliver real benefits to the bottom line.

“These packages are designed around keeping employees, which is something every one of our parts manufacturers, vehicle modifiers, auto workshops, parts suppliers and parts retailers want to do,” said Charity.

The AAAA has promoted all the announced packages after simulating what the programmes may mean and how easy it is to apply. The programmes that are receiving the greatest interest from the automotive industry include the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers measure, which can deliver a maximum of $100,000 to small to medium businesses, apprenticeship and trainee programmes that can provide up to $21,000, and the new JobKeeper payment programme which can provide $1500 per employee per fortnight for six months.

“The challenge for us as an industry association is, firstly, to encourage our members that are not normally recipients of grants and incentives to factor this funding into their thinking about whether their business will survive, and secondly, to ensure that they register or apply for these programmes,” said Charity.

The Boosting Cash Flow for Employers programme will occur automatically, but other programmes require a registration process and AAAA says its efforts are currently dedicated to getting the message out that the stimulus packages are real and that they can make the difference between survival and collapse of the business.

“For our workshops and our retailers, these programmes are unique,” said Charity. “We are getting that message out because previous economic stimulus programmes require business to make an upfront investment and the government rewards that investment with funds or with accelerated depreciation/instant right off. These programmes simply require that our companies keep their employees engaged, something we are happy to do and want to do.

“We know from our experience of the global financial crisis that this makes a difference. Immediately after the GFC, the businesses that maintained a relationship with their employees recovered quicker and were more sustainable in the long run.

“We are hearing some confusion from customers that think we are closed – we are certainly not closed and our sector will remain open, provided we meet all of the required precautions until we are instructed by [the] government to close. We are maintaining very regular communication with [the] government to ensure that we know when and what advice to give to our members. The message so far is simple – establish the required precautions, minimise physical contact and remain open for business to support the community in this difficult time.

“Many households are now very reliant on essential support services from local government and close family members to deliver food and other supplies. We are a critical service to ensure that these cars can stay on the road safely and we are continuing to deliver emergency repairs and critical maintenance services. We do understand that some in the community may think that their regular service can be delayed, but please don’t make that decision on your own – call your workshop and find out if your next service includes critical components. Similarly, we can’t afford for any vehicle to run low on oil. If you are worried about taking time for a full service, see if you can at least call in and have the oil topped up. You will do irreparable damage to your car if you ignore any warning lights on your dash. In the first instance, call your mechanic – they are happy to talk through what your options are.”

According to the AAAA, the automotive maintenance and repair sector is adapting and surviving. Some workshops have chosen to close, but the association’s assessment is that less than two per cent of workshops have done so. The AAAA says most automotive repairers have put special measures in place including contactless service, such as key drops that do not require human-to-human contact. Similarly, new processes have been put in place in which the internal surfaces of the vehicle and the external entry points are all sanitised prior to returning the vehicles.

“Our members make sure that the car is sanitised before it is returned to the customer – the steering wheel, doors, dash, gear stick – basically every surface is sanitised and the car is certainly safer than when it was dropped off to us,” said Charity.

The AAAA says everyone is adapting as best as they can, and many are offering quicker essential safety checks and sanitising as a free service.

“We have a remarkably agile and innovative sector,” said Charity. “Our members are responding by delivering services differently or delivering new services that speak directly to our customers’ concerns about safety, reducing any risk of contracting the virus and having a safe, reliable means of transport to keep the household running and to look after vulnerable members of our community. We will keep doing this for as long as we possibly can.”

Special CIECAst Webinar Announced For April

CIECA has announced that it will be holding a special CIECAst webinar on Monday 6 April at 11 AM CST.

The webinar, “How Our Industry is Addressing Challenges Created by the Coronavirus”, will feature business leaders from the collision repair industry and highlight ways that companies can continue to provide high-quality service while the coronavirus restrictions are in place.

The CIECAst webinar scheduled for 21 April, “The Importance of OEM Certifications,” has been postponed until August.

CIECA constantly looks for ways to help the collision repair industry approach evolving issues, increase efficiency and meet the needs of its customers,” said Ed Weidmann, Executive Director at CIECA. “We hope you can join us for this broadcast, which is aimed at addressing the many issues created by these challenging times.”

The speakers will include:

  • Mike Anderson, owner, Collision Advice
  • Debbie Day, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Mitchell International
  • Shan McMillon, owner, Cocoa Auto Salvage and ARA Executive Committee member
  • Dustin Nunamaker, Director, Claims Material Damage, Kemper Insurance
  • Dan Risley, Vice President Quality Repair & Market Development, CCC

To register for the CIECAst, click here.

Camden Crash & Restorations Awarded I-CAR Gold Class

I-CAR Australia has announced that Camden Crash & Restorations in Smeaton Grange, New South Wales, has received I-CAR Gold Class status.

“Camden Crash & Restorations are very proud to have achieved the I-CAR Gold Class accreditation,” said Jason Spiteri, Business Manager at Camden Crash & Restorations. “Our team have worked very hard and have found the programme to be very interesting. Combined with our experience in the industry and ongoing training, our team will now be equipped and have the skills to keep up-to-date with the motor vehicle repairs to manufacturer standards. We would like to thank I-CAR Australia and their team for making the training programme.”

“Jason and the team at Camden Crash & Restorations contacted us at the beginning of 2019 to express their interest in joining the Road to Gold programme,” said Gary Wood, Gold Class Coordinator at I-CAR Australia. “After developing a training programme for them, they have been regular participants in online virtual training and have had all their panel staff successfully complete the I-CAR Welding Certification, which is a great achievement.

“Jason worked closely with Glasurit, a member of the I-CAR Industry Training Alliance, to arrange product specific training for their refinish staff which contributed towards their training programme. It has been a great effort by everyone concerned, highlighted by five staff members now holding Platinum Individual status. Well done from everyone at I-CAR.”

ANCAP Appoints New Chair To Board Of Directors

ANCAP SAFETY, Australasia’s independent vehicle safety authority, has announced the appointment of Andy Cornish as its new Chair of its Board of Directors. Cornish has been an independent Director since 2017 and will now step into the role of Chair after Wendy Machin signalled her intention to retire from the board.

“Together with the ANCAP board, we thank Wendy for her demonstrable commitment to improving vehicle safety,” said Cornish. “During Wendy’s six years on the board, the organisation has strengthened with record high levels of market coverage, member engagement, consumer awareness and industry and community collaboration.

“Her chairmanship has seen the development and implementation of a strong strategic agenda highlighting the road safety challenges and subsequent areas of focus where vehicle safety can enhance the road safety outcome.”

Machin said that after her six-year tenure on the board, most as Chair, it was time to transition the board to new leadership.

“It has been a privilege to chair the board of ANCAP,” said Machin. “It is a small organisation with a big impact. Its work in testing and advocating for safer vehicles has had a direct positive impact on the Australian and New Zealand road toll.

“As a leader in the insurance and business sector, Andy brings a new perspective and a wealth of experience in risk and safety – essential considerations in the work that ANCAP does. I wish him and the ANCAP board well in their important work in the coming years and thank them for their support and commitment.”

Cornish says he looks forward to guiding the delivery of existing objectives, initiatives and projects, incorporating some new aspects, and to reinforce the importance of ANCAP’s independent consumer testing and advocacy voice.

“ANCAP plays a vital role in influencing and enhancing Australia and New Zealand’s automotive landscape, and while we are currently working through uncertain times for the industry and the economy, we are seeing significant advancements in vehicle technologies where we will see ANCAP’s role further develop to ensure we provide consumers with confidence in future mobility,” said Cornish.

Axalta Concludes Review Of Strategic Alternatives Due To COVID-19

Axalta’s board of directors has unanimously voted to conclude its review of strategic alternatives due to the dislocation in global markets caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the nine-month review, Axalta explored alternatives to maximise shareholder value, including a comprehensive sale process, as well as an evaluation of the company’s operating strategies, core underlying businesses and standalone value creation potential.

Following evaluation of these alternatives, the board determined that shareholders are best served by the ongoing execution of the company’s strategic plan.

Axalta communicated with more than 50 participants, including companies in the coatings, chemical and industrial sectors, as well as financial sponsors throughout the US, Europe, and Asia regarding a potential sale of the company or components of its business. Axalta signed non-disclosure agreements with 18 potential purchasers to facilitate due diligence.

“Although the process has concluded, our board will continue to evaluate all opportunities to enhance shareholder value,” said Mark Garrett, Axalta’s Chairman of the Board and Chair of its Strategic Review Committee. “I would like to thank Robert Bryant (Axalta President and CEO) and the management team for their hard work in the review process and for the excellent job they are doing to navigate Axalta through a global crisis. I’d also like to thank our employees for their relentless commitment and outstanding contributions to Axalta’s success.”

Bryant said Axalta has taken “swift and decisive action” to address the impact of COVID-19 on customer demand, including executing adjustments to Axalta’s cost structure.

“We believe the actions we are taking, coupled with a strong balance sheet and ample liquidity, will enable us to emerge from this crisis in a position of strength. Our top priority is the health of our employees, customers and communities. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and take further action as appropriate,” said Bryant.

Geoff Richards Panel Beating Receives I-CAR Gold Class

I-CAR Australia has announced that Geoff Richards Panel Beating in Dubbo, New South Wales, has achieved I-CAR Gold Class status.

“We pride ourselves on being the panel industry leader in the region and continue to raise the bar and be the first in many areas,” said Tracey Ricards, joint owner of Geoff Richards Panel Beating. “In 2018 we were awarded the MTA Green Stamp Accreditation for our environmental management and we are now thrilled to be awarded the prestigious I-CAR Gold Class Collision status.

“Irrespective of being located in the country, we want all 19 of our staff to have the opportunity to be their best and have access to the best training available worldwide, which is why we joined I-CAR. As a business, I-CAR Gold Class Collision status is not only a reflection of our monetary investment, but our staff’s personal commitment to completing over a thousand hours of training in their own time.

“The I-CAR team made the whole process seamless and are true professionals who genuinely care about the future of the panel industry.”

“It’s fantastic to see Geoff Richards Panel Beating achieve Gold Class status,” said Gary Wood, Gold Class Coordinator at I-CAR Australia. “Their attitude and dedication towards training since joining the programme has been first class. They have proven that location isn’t a barrier when it comes to professional development for their team, and participation in online virtual training allowed them to complete the role-relevant training required for the Gold Class accreditation. Geoff Richards [Panel Beating’s] commitment to ongoing training will ensure safety and quality for all their customers. Well done from everyone at I-CAR.”