Many automakers, including Toyota Motor Corp., halted output at plants after an 8.9- magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Japan, damaging production facilities and causing power outages.
The quake, Japan’s strongest in at least a century, struck at 2:46 p.m. local time 130 kilometers (81 miles) off the coast of Sendai, north of Tokyo, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The tremor caused a tsunami as high as 10 meters (33 feet) that inundated northern towns and caused buildings to shake violently as far away as Tokyo. At least 26 people were killed by the wave and many were missing, state broadcaster NHK Television said.
AkzoNobel Automotive & Aerospace Coatings Americas (A&AC) has announced the second year recipients of the “FIT“ Sustainability Award. Receiving the 2011 award will be Mark’s Auto Body Ltd. of British Columbia, Canada, Moody’s Auto Body, Gorham, Maine and Lafontaine Automotive Group in Highland, Michigan.
The “FIT” Award is the collision repair industry’s first recognition for visionary organizations that are utilizing business practices which meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future. The three letter acronym represents the three key measurement criteria of the award; Focus, Innovation and Talent. This award was created to promote the leadership role and unique contributions which the collision repair industry is making to generate a more sustainable future.
As part of its continuing mission to promote goodwill and the positive image of the collision industry, the National Auto Body Council (NABC) has announced support for a national program called, “Cell Phones for Soldiers”.
Cell Phones for Soldiers, which is a registered 501c3 non-profit organization, turns old cell phones into prepaid phone cards for soldiers overseas. The phones are sent to ReCellular, a leading electronics sustainability firm, which pays Cell Phones for Soldiers for each donated phone—enough to provide an hour of talk time to soldiers abroad. To date the organization has raised almost $2 million in donations and distributed more than 500,000 prepaid calling cards to soldiers serving overseas.
NABC is encouraging interested members and the industry at large to participate. One option for a shop is to volunteer as a drop-off point for the initiative and periodically send the phones they collect to Cell Phones for Soldiers. NABC is also pleased to announce that the upcoming Collision Industry Conference (CIC) in Newark, New Jersey will serve as a drop-off point for the program. Anyone who wishes to bring their old cell phones to the event will be welcomed.
Reflexxion Automotive Products, LLC, a Memphis-based manufacturer and distributor of aftermarket automotive products, has filed a Trademark Infringement lawsuit to protect its “Diamond Standard” line of bumpers and structural parts.
The lawsuit alleges that Tong Yang Group, a Taiwanese company, as well T.Y.G. Management, Inc, and T.Y.G Products, LP both headquartered in Texas, have infringed Reflexxion’s “Diamond Standard” Trademark through their use of the confusingly similar “Diamond Quality” mark for aftermarket automotive products, including bumpers and structural parts.
Reflexxion seeks both monetary damages and injunctive relief in order to distinguish “Diamond Standard” products and prevent confusion with Tong Yang’s products.
The case is before Chief Judge McCalla in the United States District Court of Tennessee, Western Division, Docket No. 2:10-cv-02633-dkv.
New crash tests and analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety demonstrate that underride guards on tractor-trailers can fail in relatively low-speed crashes - with deadly consequences. The Institute is petitioning the federal government to require stronger underride guards that will remain in place during a crash and to mandate guards for more large trucks and trailers.
To view a video about these tests from Consumer Reports please CLICK HERE.
Rear guards are the main countermeasure for reducing underride deaths and injuries when a passenger vehicle crashes into the back of a tractor-trailer. In 2009, 70 percent of the 3,163 people who died in all large truck crashes were occupants of cars or other passenger vehicles. Underride makes death or serious injury more likely since the upper part of the passenger vehicle's occupant compartment typically crushes as the truck body intrudes into the vehicle safety cage.
"Cars' front-end structures are designed to manage a tremendous amount of crash energy in a way that minimizes injuries for their occupants," says Adrian Lund, Institute president. "Hitting the back of a large truck is a game changer. You might be riding in a vehicle that earns top marks in frontal crash tests, but if the truck's underride guard fails - or isn't there at all - your chances of walking away from even a relatively low-speed crash aren't good.
Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes (SWAF) announces its continued relationship with Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. as a training partner in Toyota’s Certified Collision Center program. Sherwin-Williams will continue as one of the facilitators for the program’s training workshops throughout 2011 in different locations across the United States.
Attendees who participate in the Certified Collision Center program’s “Collision Estimator Essentials,” will get hands-on experience with the techniques, skills and information necessary to write more profitable estimates. The workshop comprises real-world estimating scenarios and industry-specific issues pertaining to body shop operations and insurance company relations.
Steve Feltovich, SWAF Manager of Business Consulting Services, believes that Toyota Motor Sales and Sherwin-Williams are a great training partnership for Toyota dealers. “The Collision Estimator Essentials collision repair estimating workshop has proven to enhance estimators’ and shop managers’ skills in all areas of writing accurate and profitable repair estimates.”
There is no charge for workshops for Toyota Certified Collision Centers’ personnel. Non-Toyota Certified Collision Centers’ attendees will be charged an enrollment cost of $295. For more information on training, visit http://www.sherwinautomotive.com/en/Training/TrainingCourses.aspx.
U.S. Chemical & Plastics, a division of Alco Industries and a leader in repair, refinish, appearance and maintenance products for the automotive aftermarket, has promoted Matt LaGuardia to director – business development, effective March 1.
In his new role, LaGuardia will be responsible for all sales, product management and overall profit growth for USC®, Morton®, Sunmight® and Spray-Max® products distributed through manufacturer’s representatives and retail channels in the U.S. and Canada.
Laguardia joined U.S. Chemical in 2003 as the Sunmight and retail product manager and was promoted to northern regional sales manager in 2007. He previously worked for NicSand, Inc., a leading supplier of abrasives and body shop supplies to the automotive refinishing industry. Laguardia will report directly to Tom Perry, president of U.S. Chemical.
“Matt’s extensive knowledge of the paint, body and equipment (PB&E) industry, along with his professionalism and enthusiasm, will contribute to the future success of our product lines and our company,” said Perry.
Founded in 1950, U.S. Chemical & Plastics is internationally recognized for formulating and manufacturing premium body filler and refinishing products. Its products are sold in more than 60 countries. U.S. Chemical & Plastics is a privately owned corporation headquartered in Massillon, Ohio.
The massive recalls announced by Toyota are designed to resolve a yearlong government investigation into whether it recalled enough vehicles and came at the request of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said the automaker.
Toyota said it was adding about 1.4 million vehicles to its November 2009 recall for pedal entrapment in floor mats. All told, Toyota has now recalled nearly 7 million vehicles in the United States over the issue.
NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said after a government review of more than 400,000 pages of Toyota documents, it was concluding its final investigation into the automaker "to determine whether the scope of its recalls for pedal entrapment was sufficient."
"As a result of the agency's review, NHTSA asked Toyota to recall these additional vehicles, and now that the company has done so, our investigation is closed," Strickland said.
Toyota spokesman John Hanson said "this latest round" of recalls hopefully puts an end to its accelerator pedal recalls.
The recalls are the latest blow to the company that has now recalled 14.2 million vehicles in the United States since January 2009, according to a Detroit News analysis. The company has recalled millions more vehicles worldwide.
Toyota — which got good news last week when two government studies found no evidence that electronics were to blame for sudden acceleration — has been struggling to put its recall problems behind it.
The company said there were no accidents or injuries linked to the new vehicles recalled Feb. 24.
Rebecca Lindland, an automotive analyst at IHS Global, said Toyota's long-term growth prospects were still at risk.
She noted that some consumers -- long-time Toyota buyers or people who were adamantly opposed to buying a Toyota -- aren't going to change their minds because of the new recall.
"But Toyota is vulnerable with first-time Toyota or Lexus owners. This is not the experience that they expected," Lindland said. Owners of other brands may also be harder to convert to Toyota.
The company is rightly focused on its reputation -- and recalling vehicles -- even with little evidence, Lindland said.
Toyota has announced that it will conduct a voluntary safety recall of approximately 20,000 2006 and early 2007 Model Year GS 300 and GS 350 All-Wheel Drive vehicles to modify the shape of the plastic pad embedded in the driver's side floor carpet. In the event that the floor carpet around the accelerator pedal is not properly replaced in the correct position after a service operation, there is a possibility that the plastic pad embedded into the floor carpet may interfere with the operation of the accelerator pedal. If this occurs, the accelerator pedal may become temporarily stuck in a partially depressed position rather than returning to the idle position.
Reuters is reporting that Ford Motor Co said it would recall about 144,000 F-150 models in the United States and Canada from the 2005 and 2006 model years due to a risk that airbags could deploy because of a short circuit.
Ford said a mistake in the assembly of the trucks at its Norfolk, Virginia plant could cause an airbag wire in the steering wheel to short circuit.
Ford said that it received an unspecified number of complaints about the airbag problem. In most cases, airbags had deployed just a few seconds after the trucks were started.
A response to NHTSA this week from Ford said the automaker believes, "the condition does not present an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety. However, to avoid a protracted discussion with the agency and to provide repair to those vehicles most likely to exhibit the condition, Ford is recalling those vehicles produced at the Norfolk Assembly Plant from November 1, 2004, through June 30, 2005."
Jordan Hendler, executive director of the Washington (D.C.) Metropolitan Auto Body Association, averted a suicide attempt in January by physically intervening when she encountered a teenage girl threatening to jump from a freeway overpass. Hendler called 911 as she approached the girl on the edge of the overpass, then kept talking to her, pleading with her not to jump.
“I told her something my father (CIC Administrator Jeff Hendler) always told me about suicide: “This is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.’” Jordan Hendler kept talking to the girl as another by-passer approached from the other end of the overpass.
Together they restrained the girl and pulled her from the barrier she had climbed over. Hendler said it took both of them to hold the hysterical girl down until emergency responders arrived about four minutes after the call to 911. “It seemed like an eternity, a lot longer,” Hendler said.
She said she knows nothing about the girl other than she looked to be about 14 or 15, and lives in a group home for teenagers. “You don’t know that one day you’ll be called upon to do the right thing at the right moment, but when the time comes, if you have your heart open, you will know exactly what to do,” Hendler said.