Kia Motors America is ramping up its U.S. production at the manufacturer’s West Point, Georgia, plant. The plant will increase output from the current 300,000 vehicles per year to 360,000 beginning this September.
In a public statement made June 2 President and CEO of Kia Motors America, Ahn Byung-mo, said, "Kia is experiencing unprecedented growth in the U.S., led by the best-selling Sorento. And with demand for the critically acclaimed Optima currently outpacing supply we are proud to add the popular sedan as the second Kia vehicle on the production line."
In anticipation of the increase, Kia has just hired 1,000 new U.S. worker. Byung-mo hopes this expansion will keep up with the high demand for Kia’s Optima sedan and Sorento SUV, best-sellers for the brand. Kia’s Georgia plant will begin producing both models exclusively.
The nation’s largest association of insurer fraud investigators has contributed $10,000 to a memorial fund honoring two Louisiana investigators who were killed in the line of duty on June 7, according to Insurance Journal.
The board of directors of the International Association of Special Investigation Units authorized the donation to the fund created by the Louisiana Insurance Department in the wake of the murders of Rhett Jeansonne and Kim Sledge last month.
The insurance department investigators were shot by an agent they were seeking to interview in Ville Platte, La.
“They were members of IASIU and dedicated professionals. IASIU appreciates the support of the Louisiana insurance department over the years. The senseless murder of our fellow IASIU members is unimaginable,” IASIU president Dave Rioux, of Erie Insurance, wrote to Louisiana Commissioner Jim Donelon on behalf of the IASIU members.
The fund will be used to purchase and place a permanent memorial on the insurance department’s grounds in Baton Rouge. Any remaining money will go to the estates of Jeansonne and Sledge.
“Kim and Rhett were true Louisiana heroes who lost their lives protecting our citizens and we hope to memorialize their efforts in an appropriate manner. Know that the outpouring of support from our colleagues has been invaluable,” Donelon said to Insurance Journal.
The Houston Auto Body Association (HABA) held their monthly members meeting on June 28th at the UTI (Universal Technical Institute) in Houston at 7:00 pm.
The group of about 35 attendees discussed two main topics at the meeting; the bulletin recently sent out by Texas Insurance Commissioner Mike Geeslin and a presentation by I-CAR's Chuck Sulkala concerning changes to the I-CAR program.
Insurance Commissioner Mike Geeslin sent out a bulletin warning auto insurers that some claims settlement practices may be in violation of Texas law. Geeslin's bulletin says that reports of steering, limiting labor/reimbursement rates, and other potential unfair claim settlement practices continue to be received by his department. See the text of the bulletin HERE.
I-Car and the Houston I-Car Committee hosted a special presentation on June 29 on I-Car’s new Professional Development Program with guest speaker Chuck Sulkala, Executive Director of the National Auto Body Council and former Chairman of I-CAR.
Since I-CAR's new program was announced in July of 2010, many questions have been raised regarding the new curriculum and the challenges that it presents to the industry.
Doug Schlueter, I-Car South Central Regional Manager, was also be on hand at the presentation to answer any questions regarding I-CAR’s new training curriculum.
For more information please visit www.habaonline.org.
The Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair (CCAR) recognized a Slidell, LA, collision repair shop with its “GreenLink Shop” status on June 29.
The shop that received the recognition was Frank’s Accurate Body Shop.
The “GreenLink Shop” status promotes consumer confidence in local automotive repair facilities’ environmental and safety awareness and implementation, according to CCAR.
Repair facilities pursuing “GreenLink Shop” recognition must maintain high standards of excellence in environmental, health and safety practices in four categories. The CCAR initiative recognizes auto service facilities and collision repair shops with separate criteria established for each type of business.
For more information visit ccar-greenlink.org.
Keenan Auto Body, a multi-shop operation with businesses in Pennsylvania and Delaware, held their 12th Annual Charity Golf Outing on June 3. Keenan VP and COO, Michael LeVasseur announced the successful outcome of the outing.
“I am very pleased to announce that we have raised a record amount of $28,500 for the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House and the Russella Educational Fund. This was the first year that we chose more than one charity to name as the benefactor. $15,000 was earmarked for playground equipment for the PRMH located at front and Erie streets in Philadelphia Pa and $13,500 was given to the Russella Educational Fund, a fund set up for the children’s educations of Bernadette Russella, who recently lost her battle to breast cancer."
"This year’s outing was special”, stated Craig Camacho, Keenan Auto Body’s Marketing Director, “Bernadette LeVasseur Russella is the sister of Mike LeVasseur, Keenan’s VP and COO. It’s a great feeling when you can come together and help those who consistently
without fail help others. Mike is always there for everyone when called upon, it’s a trait his entire family lives by. I want to personally thank everyone that played a part and generously donated making our event a complete success.”
Electric automaker Fisker started the initial stage of a "comprehensive job creation program" during the last weekend of June, advertising for the first positions at the recommissioned Wilmington, DE, plant, according to reports made by the Detroit News.
About 120 engineers, electro-mechanical technicians and early teams of production workers will be hired this year, as Fisker prepares for the launch of its second line of production vehicles, a midsize premium sedan code-named Project Nina, at the end of 2012.
Please visit www.fiskerautomotive.com for more information.
The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP-NJ) announced June 27 that the 35th annual NORTHEAST™ 2012 Automotive Services Show will take place March 9–11, 2012 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey.
NORTHEAST™ 2012 will look to continue the success and industry praise it has garnered since the show moved to the Meadowlands in 2009.
“Every year we have taken another step up and improved all facets of the show,” AASP-NJ President Jeff McDowell said, “and the attendance, the industry response and vendors have all supported that fact. We are looking forward to providing another fantastic experience for everyone who attends in March 2012.”
NORTHEAST™ 2012 hours are: Friday, March 9, 5pm-10pm; Saturday, March 10, 10am-5pm; and Sunday, March 11, 10am-3pm. For more information on NORTHEAST™, please visit www.aaspnjnortheast.com for more information.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) released its annual list of cities with the most car thefts, and Fresno, CA, tops the list. In fact, eight cities in the top 10 are in California, with the remaining two in Washington state.
Right behind Fresno are two other Central Valley cities, Modesto and Bakersfield. Sacramento, Stockton, and an area including San Francisco, Oakland, and Fremont also make the list. Spokane, WA, comes in at No. 4. Surprisingly, Los Angeles is all the way down at 23.
Here are the top 10 cities for car theft in 2010:
1. Fresno, Calif.
2. Modesto, Calif.
3. Bakersfield-Delano, Calif.
4. Spokane, Wash.
5. Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.
6. Sacramento--Arden-Arcade--Roseville, Calif.
7. Stockton, Calif.
8. Visalia-Porterville, Calif.
9. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif.
10. Yakima, Wash.
The city with the least car thefts was State College, PA.
The NICB's list does not indicate how long the cars stay stolen, as GPS is enabling a number of stolen vehicle recovery systems.
For more information please visit www.nicb.org.
Police in Fort Lauderdale, FL, are investigating how a former San Diego County car dealer died in his million-dollar mansion on June 30.
70-year old Ronald Vinci, the former owner of Pacific Honda in Kearny Mesa, owned several dealerships in the San Diego area starting in the 1960s. He also owned several Honda dealerships in the 1960s, rose to millionaire status and then later sold his franchises.
Fort Lauderdale police now believe they found out who killed the former San Diegan.
Police arrested Vinci's live-in girlfriend, Catherine Pileggi on July 5, according to NBC San Diego. Detectives said Vinci was trying to break off his relationship with Pileggi at the time of his death. They believe an argument between Pileggi and Vinci turned fatal.
Homicide detectives arrested Pileggi on July 5 after finding several items linking Pileggi to the scene. Pileggi is charged with first degree murder.
10News San Diego also reported that Vinci's body was wrapped in duct tape when it was found discovered inside the home, which is in an upscale neighborhood along Fort Lauderdale's New River.
Neighbors were stunned by the sudden, reportedly suspicious death.
"We moved here because it is real quiet and slow paced and everybody walks their dogs and says hi to each other. It is a real shock to hear something like this has happened," said neighbor, John Anderson to 10News.
Vinci formerly lived in Rancho Santa Fe, CA; reports showed he moved from San Diego to Florida in 2005.
Vinci leaves behind a son and grandson.
In April of this year Gunder’s Auto Center received notice whereas the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit upheld a lower court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of State Farm Insurance in Gunder’s claim of slander and tortious interference with a business relationship against the nation’s largest personal auto insurer.
Ray Gunder stated; “after considerable thought, counsel and discussion with family and close friends, and as a result of recent activities on other pending cases against State Farm I decided to proceed with submitting what is referred to as a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court requesting their review and opinion of the lower court’s ruling. As we continue to ‘pound that rock’ I see we are standing on a substantial amount of gravel… and as I’ve said before, we’re all-in and we’re too close to quit now and will continue until we either prevail or exhaust all opportunities to do so!"
A copy of the court’s prior ruling may be found at: http://www.courtlistener.com/ca11/26Fy/gunders-auto-center-v-state-farm/