Autobody News - Items filtered by date: January 2012

General Motors announced Jan. 31 that it will start construction within the month on a $200 million stamping plant in Arlington, Texas, creating about 180 jobs. Some of the jobs will be relocated from GM's Parma Metal Center in Ohio.

The plant will be part of the company’s Arlington manufacturing complex, adjacent to the facility that makes the company's full-sized sport utility vehicles, and is scheduled to start production in 2013. It will produce large stamping components for the next generation of Chevrolet Tahoes, Suburbans, GMC Yukons and Cadillac Escalades.

The company has noted that it is inefficient to make parts in Ohio and Michigan and ship them across the country to Texas. In addition to higher transportation costs, parts can get damaged during the long trip, lowering the quality of finished SUVs.

GM plans to add 180 jobs in Texas when the new stamping facility is finished next year. The Arlington plant now employs about 2,500. When the new stamping plant opens, it will take over fabrication of some parts now made at the company's Parma Metal Center.

Last May, GM said it would invest $331 million in the Texas assembly plant for expansion and to purchase tooling and equipment. GM says it has committed more than $6.9 billion of investments to upgrade or expand operation in 12 states since June 2009, creating or retaining more than 17,600 jobs.

GM spokeswoman Kim Carpenter said that won't mean any job losses in Parma. GM is increasing production at several plants in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana over the next few years, and there should be plenty of work for its larger stamping plants, she said.

"Parma stamping will continue making parts for other GM facilities," Carpenter said. "The Arlington announcement is adding capacity to the entire GM system."

Joe Ashton, vice president of the UAW representing the GM department, said in a statement that the announcement was further evidence that the U.S. auto industry is recovering.

“An important goal for the UAW is to increase the number of manufacturing jobs in the United States, and we are pleased that General Motors has decided to make this investment in Arlington,” he said in the statement.

 

The Inland Empire chapter of the California Autobody Association (CAA) held a Tech education and appreciation night on January 25th at the Spaghetti Factory in Rancho Cucamonga.

This was the first meeting of 2012 for the Inland Empire chapter, and new President Tim Brown from Auto Center Auto Body in San Bernardino was on hand to introduce the night's speaker.

The meeting's speaker was Tom McGee, the Collision Industry Relations Manager for ALLDATA. Tom spoke about ALLDATA S3500, the company's updated software version. This is a newer platform that is easier to navigate. Tom also guided attendees through the repair procedures and symbols to help ensure that techs have a better understanding of the procedures outlined by a vehicle manufacturer to perform a proper repair.

The event had 60 people in attendance and 13 were technicians. Very generous associate members of the CAA donated prizes to be raffled off to technicians only, and all 13 in attendance went home with some great prizes.

Also each Tech who accompanied an Owner or Manager to the event received a complimentary meal.

For more information about the next Inland Empire meeting please contact Cindy Shillito the Southern CA CAA Rep at 714-944-4028.

The Automotive Service Councils of California (ASCCA) and California/Nevada/Arizona Automotive Wholesalers’ Association (CAWA) are hosting the third annual Aftermarket Summit on February 18, 2012, in Sacramento. The summit continues to grow, and the two organizations expect to attract participants representing both independent repair facilities and aftermarket parts and manufacturers and distributors. 

Issues to be discussed include:

•    Strength in industry unity;
•    Sharing legislative agendas;
•    AWDA’s work on warranties and labor claim form – best practices;
•    Industry training: what’s available; how to encourage participation; scholarship giving;
•    What is the image the industry wants to project; what attracts people to enter the industry; incentives;
•    The industry is transforming, particularly technologically, in the conduct of business between suppliers and customers.

Tracy Renee, 2012 ASCCA President, noted the following about the summit, “The rate of technological changes in our industry, and environmental influences, as well as legislative and regulatory impacts, will continue to grow exponentially. The outcome of these factors will shape our individual and collective futures as well as the industry. Together we must reflect that growth to be effective in protecting our interests and having our collective voices heard, respected, and acted upon.”

Steve Sharp, Chair of CAWA’s Board of Directors, stated, “As manufacturers, distributors and retailers, we find it informative and valuable to have thought-provoking discussions with the repair segment of our industry. These discussions strengthen our respective businesses and builds unity throughout the aftermarket distribution channel.”

For additional information regarding the summit, please contact CAWA CEO Rodney Pierini, at 800.332.2292, ext. 1; or ASCCA Executive Director Jackie Miller, at 800.810.4272; 916.924.9054.

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America’s (PCI) said auto body legislation would be one of its key priorities for 2012. PCI said it anticipates the major auto body repair and glass issues for 2012 will involve aftermarket parts, labor rates, steering and estimating systems. To help control costs and promote customer service, PCI said it will oppose legislative efforts that would restrict insurers’ ability to make recommendations or suggestions to consumers on individual repair facilities or that would impede insurers’ ability to manage the claim repair process and control costs on behalf of consumers.

“PCI is committed to advancing a pro- consumer agenda that supports healthy, competitive insurance markets across the nation,” said Paul Blume, senior vice president of state government relations for PCI.

“In these tough economic times consumers are best served by measures that address the cost drivers of insurance and provide individuals with choices. Our agenda will also help modernize state regulatory environments and improve insurance marketplaces.”

In addition to auto body legislation, other priorities include protecting and promoting the viability of a competitive private insurance market, curbing fraud and abuse in several no- fault auto insurance systems, addressing auto body repair and coastal property insurance issues, as well as advancing cost containment measures in state workers compensation systems. In addition, PCI anticipates credit-based insurance scoring and tort reform to once again be legislative issues during 2012.

PCI said it made significant progress at the state, federal, and international levels last year on many issues, despite facing an anemic economy, increasing political and regulatory pressures, and historic natural disasters. Looking forward to 2012, PCI said it anticipates facing many of these issues again, with the additional challenge of advancing its advocacy agenda during a watershed presidential election year.

Insurer representatives' reaction to the California Department of Insurance (CDI) Jan 25 meeting to discuss proposed labor rate survey and steering regulations has been critical of pro-shop benefits, saying "these regulations would merely benefit vendors, like auto repair shops."

The Association of California Insurance Companies (ACIC) says proposed labor rate survey regulations create new standards on how insurers conduct surveys, which could increase costs for auto repairs.  See related articles HERE.

CDI’s proposed steering regulations could also inhibit insurers from informing policyholders where they can obtain repair estimates.  ACIC testified in opposition to these proposed regulations during the workshop in Sacramento, California.  In its testimony, ACIC requested that CDI provide information on its rationale for considering this regulation.  ACIC specifically requested how many and the types of consumer complaints CDI has received related to this regulation.

“Absent this consumer data from CDI, we don’t understand how the regulations benefit consumers,” said Armand Feliciano, ACIC vice president.  “It appears these regulations would merely benefit vendors, like auto body repair shops.  Given California’s shaky economy, now is not the time to propose laws that could increase the cost of auto repairs.”

“CDI is attempting to legislate through the regulatory process with these proposed labor rate survey and steering regulations,” said Feliciano.  “Regulations must have statutory authority granted by the Legislature for them to be valid; CDI does not have legislative authority to make these policy changes.”

Under current law, labor rate surveys are voluntary in California.  Some insurers conduct these surveys to determine how much auto body shops are charging for labor in a certain area.  This helps insurers to predict repair costs and establish premium levels.  Current law also prohibits insurers from telling policyholders to go to specific repair shops.  Policyholders have the choice to take their car to any shop they choose.

“Any major policy changes like what CDI is contemplating should be considered through the legislative process,” said Feliciano.

About the ACIC:

The Association of California Insurance Companies (ACIC) is an affiliate of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) and represents more than 300 property/casualty insurance companies doing business in California. ACIC member companies write 41.8 percent of the property/casualty insurance in California, including 57.3 percent of personal auto insurance, 45.7 percent of commercial automobile insurance, 40 percent of homeowners insurance, 32.5 percent of business insurance and 43.4 percent of the private workers compensation insurance.  PCI is composed of more than 1,000 member companies, representing the broadest cross-section of insurers of any national trade association.

Proposed additions to the current text of regulations are in bold text and proposed deletions to the current text of regulations are indicated in strike-through text.

Title 10, Chapter 5, Subchapter 9, Article 7

Amend section 2698.91 as follows: Section 2698.91

Auto Body Repair Labor Rate Surveys
(a) Section 758(c) of the Insurance Code provides that any insurer that conducts an auto body repair labor rate survey to determine and set a specified prevailing auto body rate in a specific geographic area shall report the results of that survey to the department which shall make the information available upon request. The survey information shall include the names and addresses of the auto body repair shops and the total number of shops surveyed. Section 790.03(h) of the California Insurance Code enumerates sixteen claims settlement practices that, when either knowingly committed on a single occasion, or performed with such frequency as to indicate a general business practice, are considered to be unfair claims settlement practices and are, thus, prohibited. The practices prohibited include failing to the attempt in good faith to effectuate prompt, fair, and equitable settlements of claims Section 790.10 of the California Insurance Code provides that the commissioner shall, from time to time as conditions warrant, after notice and public· hearing, promulgate reasonable rules and regulations, and amendments and additions thereto, as are necessary to administer this article 6.5 (Unfair Practices). The Insurance Commissioner has promulgated these regulations in order to accomplish the following objectives:

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