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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.