Holden Financial Services Launches In Australia

GM Financial, the global automotive finance company of General Motors, has officially launched its Australian business, Holden Financial Services.

Holden Financial Services Managing Director, Richard Tatford, said GM Financial’s expansion into Australia is a compelling opportunity to partner with an established domestic automotive brand, a highly competitive vehicle portfolio and a committed dealer network.

“Holden Guaranteed Value – our first product offering – gives customers the choice and flexibility to trade in, keep or return their vehicle at the end of their selected finance term, with the peace of mind around the future value of their vehicle,” said Tatford.

“It is a promise to our customers that their vehicle should retain its value over time, because of the assurance of a guaranteed buyback at the end of their loan agreement. Customers can rest assured that the value of their vehicle is future proofed.”

“Our expansion into Australia is the latest example of how we are growing our business and providing mobility solutions that help us earn customers for life,” said Rick Livingood, Executive Vice President, Asia Pacific, GM Financial, who visited Melbourne for the Australian launch. “We are fully focused on creating added incremental value for Holden, the dealer network and our retail customers.”

Holden Chairman and Managing Director Dave Buttner said the launch of Holden Financial Services means the Holden dealer network can now utilise GM’s captive finance company to offer competitive and innovative finance options for customers.

“The launch of Holden Financial Services reflects General Motors’ confidence in the future of Holden,” said Buttner. “Many Holden dealers and customers have consistently told us that they would like the choice of a captive finance company as they consider finance options for a new vehicle purchase. We are delighted to now be able to offer Holden Financial Services, backed by the strength and global footprint of GM Financial.”

In addition to Australia, GM Financial has operations in the US, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China (through joint ventures), Colombia, Mexico and Peru, covering approximately 90 per cent of GM’s worldwide automotive sales footprint.

National Business Council Returns In 2019

The Axalta Services team will be showing body shops how to meet the challenges of achieving productivity and profitability, head on, through a National Business Council symposium held at the Novotel in St Kilda, Melbourne from 11 to 13 August 2019.

Axalta says Axalta Services works hard with body shops to successfully manage both productivity and profitability by creating networking and management training opportunities engineered specifically for body shops. The company says the National Business Council symposium creates such a platform to effectively demonstrate how, through innovative business solutions, body shops can restructure to create a more sustainable business model, helping to future proof their business.

“The 2019 National Business Council is all about providing valuable insights into some of the tools and techniques that are critical in increasing throughput and decreasing cycle times within the collision repair process,” said Robin Taylor, Axalta’s Services Manager.

According to Axalta, the symposium’s seminars will focus on issues that are currently impacting or will impact body shops, as well as “looking at effective business strategies, targeting customer relationship management and change management”.

Attendees will also hear from Collision Advice’s Mike Anderson, who brings extensive knowledge and experience from the US market. Anderson will discuss leading trends in the US and focus on his experience in a dynamic industry.

Happening every few years, Axalta says the National Business Council is a networking opportunity for people in the industry to come together and share their experiences. Not only do attendees leave with insights into how to make their body shop more productive and profitable, but they also leave with a greater understanding of where the refinish industry is heading and how rapidly it is evolving.

“After attending the National Business Council, it made me realise just how many changes are happening in our industry today,” said Bert Rowsell, Managing Director of Rowsell Collision Repairs, about the 2016 conference. “I gained valuable insights that I can now take back to my businesses and more importantly, I have great networking contacts with whom I can share ideas. I found the two-day seminar very informative, with quality guest speakers and lively group discussions. I eagerly await the next conference.”

To learn more about the National Business Council or to register your interest, please visit www.axalta.com.au/axaltaservices.

I-CAR Awards Insurer Gold Class To Auto & General Insurance

I-CAR Australia’s Gold Class Coordinator, Gary Wood, announced that Auto & General Insurance has been awarded the prestigious I-CAR Gold Class Insurer status.

“Auto & General is very pleased to be awarded Gold Class Insurer status by I-CAR Australia,” said Anthony Matthews, General Manager Assessing. At Auto & General we realise that our biggest asset is our people, and partnering with I-CAR we are committed to ensuring our assessors are best in class, highly skilled and equipped to manage the ongoing developments in the smash repair industry.

“Auto & General is proud to partner with I-CAR to ensure that our assessors understand our customers’ needs, make the process easy the first time and every time, and with our partner repairers, ensure every car is returned to customers with the required repair specifications.”

“To achieve Insurer Gold Class, a minimum of 75 per cent of an insurance company’s assessing staff must have been awarded the Platinum Individual designation,” said I-CAR’s Gary Wood.

“Auto & General Insurance has shown a great commitment to I-CAR’s Professional Development Program to meet those requirements and as a result have achieved I-CAR Gold Class Insurer status. This will ensure that all assessing staff have the skills and knowledge to provide safe repairs for their members. Congratulations to everyone at Auto & General Insurance on a fantastic achievement.”

Killen’s Smash Repairs Strikes Gold With I-CAR

I-CAR Australia Gold Class Coordinator Gary Wood announced that Killen’s Smash Repairs in Armidale, New South Wales has been awarded the prestigious I-CAR Gold Class Collision status.

“I am extremely pleased to award Killen’s Smash Repairs I-CAR Gold Class status,” said Wood. “Michael and the team have been regular participants in I-CAR training for a number of years. They made the decision to join the Road to Gold 12 months ago and have now successfully met all the requirements for I-CAR Gold Class status.

Through a combination of virtual classroom sessions, ITA training in conjunction with PPG and participation in the I-CAR welding certification, they fully deserve the recognition. Well done to everyone at Killen’s Smash Repairs.”

“Killen’s Smash Repairs are very proud to have achieved I-CAR Gold Class,” said Michael Killen. “We have valued I-CAR training since it began in Australia and believe that it provides direct benefits to our business, in helping us to ensure that our repairs are completed to the highest possible standard and our clients can be confident that we are delivering the safest possible repair.

“We are also very proud of the fact that as part of our Road to Gold training, all of our panel technicians have achieved structural weld certification. We look forward to continuing our training commitment with I-CAR into the future.”

Axalta Services Offers Course To Help Redefine Body Shop Processes

Axalta is offering an I-CAR-approved Lean Foundations Course designed for body shop owners, managers and team leaders to improve processes and reduce waste in their body shop.

With ongoing time and cost pressures from insurance companies and work providers, collision repairers are constantly looking for ways to “do more with less”. Axalta says Lean Foundations is a highly interactive one-day course that allows participants to walk away with an in-depth understanding of tools and techniques to drive efficiency and profitability in their shop. It will also present easy-to-understand concepts and tools that help participants challenge and refine their processes using the knowledge and skills of their own employees.

The company says the principles and tools discussed in the course provide an ideal foundation for removing waste and improving processes within a body shop. While short-term gains or improvements are often made, process improvement either stalls or regresses. That’s where the company says its Axalta Services team excels in its presentation of the course, giving tips on where process improvements become derailed and how to get things back on track.

Axalta’s training alliance with I-CAR means that upon completion of the Lean Foundations course, an attendee will be awarded credit hours that can be applied towards the I-CAR Gold Class Professionals and Platinum Individual designations, or be used to meet role relevant annual training requirements.

The training dates for Lean Foundations in 2019 are:

  • Adelaide 13 March
  • Brisbane 20 March
  • Sydney 27 March
  • Melbourne 8 May
  • Perth 15 May

Full details on Axalta Services and the latest courses available can be found at www.axalta.com.au/AxaltaServices.

UPDATED: Associations Express Mixed Views Over Government Mandatory Repair Information Paper

(UPDATE 13 Feb: This article has been updated with the MTA NSW’s response.)
Three automotive industry associations have expressed mixed reaction to the release of the federal government’s consultation paper on the introduction of a mandatory scheme for the sharing of vehicle service and repair information between car companies and independent repairers.

The AAAA said it welcomed the document’s release but warned that some aspects of the paper are inconsistent with the ACCC’s findings. VACC gave it a “lukewarm” reception and labelled it “weak”, while the Motor Traders’ Association of NSW “strongly welcomed” the Government’s commitment to guarantee independent repairers access to car manufacturers’ data.

“We strongly encourage the government to take onboard the full ACCC findings and recommendations relating to the attributes of a mandatory scheme, as the overriding objective of this scheme is to provide fair and open competition to promote choice and affordability for all Australian car owners,” said AAAA Chief Executive Officer, Stuart Charity.

“We are concerned about the language used throughout the consultation paper that relate to “exclusions” and “restrictions” that may be included in a mandatory code.  Of course, there will need to be safeguards in place to protect the security and integrity of vehicle related data, however vehicle security should not be used as an excuse by car companies to withhold critical information required to complete a vehicle repair or service.

“These terms were not used in the ACCC Final Report and if they are included in the final code, we have no doubt that car companies will fully exploit this by linking all required information to either security, safety or emissions, and in reality, nothing will have changed for consumers,” said Charity.

“In order for Australian consumers to be treated fairly when it comes to the scheduled servicing, maintenance and repair of their vehicles, car companies should not be able to decide who receives information based on their own definitions relating to safety, security and emissions. The ACCC’s Final Report recommended that all required technical information ‘be shared with independent repairers on commercially fair and reasonable terms, subject to appropriate safeguards to enable the sharing of environmental, safety and security-related technical information,’ and we fully support this recommendation,” he added.

The association is also concerned by the potential for manufacturers to determine the appropriate level of investment by independent workshops in order to access service and repair data. The AAAA believes this will allow vehicle manufacturers to charge exorbitant fees for information, special tools, training and equipment and is unworkable in a market of more than 70 car brands.

“We believe that after two separate government inquiries on this matter and over eight years of consultation, it is now time for the government to build on the ACCC’s findings and recommendations and implement a mandatory code as a matter of urgency,” said Charity.

VACC expressed disappointment over the paper’s lack of penalties for manufacturers that fail to comply with the directive.

“Frankly, this document is not worth the paper it’s printed on,” said VACC Chief Executive Officer, Geoff Gwilym. “If a ‘mandated code’ has no penalties for non-compliance it will not work in the real world.”

VACC wants the government to revise its paper to include significant penalties in a bid to garner largescale compliance.

“VACC has been calling for a mandated code for a long time now. We will not be satisfied until it is a genuine mandated code – this means that there are explicit penalties if manufacturers fail in their obligations to share the information for which they are obliged.”

Gwilym said the time for consultation has long since expired and that all sides of government need to get on with the job of making a mandated code a reality.

“All stakeholders know what’s expected. But relying on goodwill has simply not worked in the past. The industry needs the next federal government to mandate a code of conduct where expectations are fully explained, along with the ramifications for those OEMs who will not play fair.”

VACC said the Labor Party is on record as supporting a mandated code for the sharing of motor vehicle service and repair information, something Gwilym believes will become an election issue.

“In the lead-up to the next federal election, Australian motorists – all 15 million of them – will consider this significant consumer issue as they enter polling booths and decide on this country’s next federal government,” said Gwilym.

MTA NSW said the release of a consultation paper was a step in the right direction, and welcomed the intended creation of an advisory group which will include the association working alongside the national body, the MTAA.

“As the only NSW employer association to represent dealers, independent service providers, repairers, dismantlers/recyclers and other automotive industries, MTA NSW has worked closely over the last 24 months with MTAA to advocate to ensure any regulatory solution takes into account the needs of all automotive businesses and consumers,” said MTA NSW CEO, Stavros Yallouridis.

“We have proactively participated with the MTAA member states and territories to develop a draft code of conduct as a potential solution which has involved extensive analysis of both European and US practical experiences to ensure a pragmatic approach is achieved.

“The code of conduct must not advantage or disadvantage any service provider over another and ensure consumer choice and a level playing field for all automotive sector industry participants. If done correctly then there should be benefits for dealers, independent mechanical repairers and other repair providers,” added Yallouridis.

Axalta Opens New ANZ Head Office In Sydney

Axalta today officially opened its new Australia and New Zealand regional head office.

The company said the 5300 square metre multi-functional facility will enable higher quality and faster service for customers throughout the region, greater access to the company’s broad selection of advanced coating technologies and products, and more efficient supply chain solutions for customers.

Axalta CEO, Robert Bryant, said the facility is a significant milestone for Axalta and its customers in the region.

“It demonstrates our confidence in the growing Australian and New Zealand markets and creates an important opportunity to be closer to our customers under one roof,” said Bryant. Customers will benefit because of the greater access to new products, faster customer service, and the unique training opportunities offered at our new facility. In addition, the expanded presence in ANZ enhances the capacity we need to meet our long-term growth plans in the region, which is an integral part of our continued global growth.”

Located in Marsden Park, Western Sydney, the facility will house regional corporate offices, a customer training facility, and a warehouse and distribution centre. Each of Axalta’s business segments – Refinish, Industrial, and Transportation – will be represented in the new building.

The state-of-the-art customer training centre will use Axalta’s latest coating technologies, training techniques and digital tools. The company said this will help customers achieve high quality results while increasing productivity and profitability.

Axalta said customers will also gain in-depth knowledge of the latest spraying application systems that use less energy and reduce waste, have fast-drying finish, and use superior colour matching technologies. The training centre is expected to be fully operational within the next four months.

“Axalta is the world leader in refinish and consistently invests in enhancing our capabilities, facilities, and training to help customers grow their businesses,” said Steven Brett, Managing Director, Australia and New Zealand, Axalta. “We provide our customers with access to the latest products and innovations in the industry and offer the best training available. We are excited about our new training capabilities in the region, and that we can now offer the most efficient warehousing and distribution methods all from this terrific new facility.”

From left: Vice President and President Emerging Markets, Sobers Sethi; CEO Robert Bryant; and Managing Director Australia and New Zealand, Steven Brett.
From left: Vice President and President Emerging Markets, Sobers Sethi; CEO Robert Bryant; and Managing Director Australia and New Zealand, Steven Brett, officially cut the ribbon to open Axalta’s new head office in Australia and New Zealand.

Bosch To Conduct Victoria’s First On-Road Automated Vehicle Trials

The Victorian state government has announced that Bosch will begin the first on-road trial of automated vehicle technology approved under the Automated Driving System (ADS).

Acting Premier Jacinta Allan said Bosch has been awarded $2.3 million from the Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) trial grants programme and issued with Victoria’s first ADS permit for on-road testing of highly automated driving systems.

Bosch will begin testing on high-speed country roads in 2019, exposing the technology to various conditions including traffic, infrastructure and weather. The trials will help Victoria understand the infrastructure required to allow these vehicles to operate on the state’s roads

Bosch Australia President, Gavin Smith, said the company is keen to demonstrate how this type of technology can reduce trauma on country roads.

The CAV programme provides funding to companies, industry bodies and other transport technology organisations that can develop appropriate technology. Other successful applicants for funding are expected to be announced shortly.

Allan said Victoria is leading the nation in the future of on-road technology and described the trial as an exciting step towards driverless vehicles hitting the road.

“The tragic fact is that you’re five times as likely to be killed on a rural road than in the city. That’s why we’re rolling out a record roads investment in rural Victoria – and this is another way we can improve safety and save lives,” said Allan.

Regulations to support the ADS permit scheme, which authorises the use of automated vehicles for testing and development on Australian roads, were completed in 2018.

Volkswagen Joins All Auto Recalls To Recover Takata Airbags

Following on from its agreement with Subaru Australia, All Auto Recalls has added Volkswagen Group Australia to its list of partners for recovering Affected Takata Airbag Inflators (ATAIs) from salvage yards and automotive recyclers.

The mandatory recall notice issued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) requires all manufacturers to replace all defective ATAIs that were used in their vehicles by 31 December 2020.

As vehicles get older, a combination of high temperatures and humidity can affect airbags installed inside. In the event of a collision, airbags can activate with too much explosive force, causing sharp metal fragments to shoot out and kill or seriously injure people in the vehicle.

Any salvage yard or automotive recycler wanting to determine whether any vehicle or parts in their possession are affected by the Takata mandatory safety recall can use the VIN check tool available on the Volkswagen website. This tool is accessible at au.volkswagen.com.au/airbag-safety-recall.

Alternatively, All Auto Recalls says it offers a bespoke validation tool and process using their systems, which will enable checking of every VIN held on record retrospectively. For more information, contact All Auto Recalls at [email protected], or Chris Daglis at [email protected] or 0411 743 560. Daglis says upon contact, he will discuss next steps and have his team facilitate the collection/return of frontal Takata airbags on behalf of Volkswagen Group Australia.

Suncorp Becomes First Thatcham Research ‘Global Associate’

Thatcham Research has announced the renewal of its contract with Suncorp, extending the successful collaboration that has seen Suncorp distribute Thatcham Research repair data in Australia and New Zealand since 2013.

Under the renewed agreement, Suncorp will become the first ever Thatcham Research Global Associate, providing Suncorp with access to Thatcham Research’s large vehicle research, data and services.

“We are delighted to welcome Suncorp as our first ever Global Associate member, building on the successful partnership we have enjoyed over the last five years,” said Neale Phillips, Global Product Director, Thatcham Research. “We are committed to supporting its needs and those of its repair network – starting with an upgrade to escribe which will shortly see the inclusion of vehicle manufacturer methods, to further increase vehicle coverage.”

Thatcham’s online portal escribe provides insurance assessors and repairers with instant access to the latest multi-franchised Thatcham Research crash repair methods, times and technical newsletters.

“Thatcham repair data helps to ensure that our customer’s vehicles are repaired in the most safe and efficient manner, so the decision to extend and strengthen our relationship with such a respected industry body was an easy one and aligns 100 per cent with Suncorp’s overarching repair strategy,” said Brett Wallace, EM Assessing & Repair Performance, Suncorp.