Toyota’s luxury division Lexus is recalling its first hybrid-only model, the HS 250h, due to a problem with its fuel system.

After months of debate, the Massachusetts Senate quietly passed a proposal allowing independent auto mechanics access to the same repair information available to dealership mechanics.

The measure, known as the Right to Repair Act, was approved this morning during an informal session with no objections from Senate legislators. It will now head to the House for another vote.

Advocates of the bill said the measure will help consumers get their cars repaired more inexpensively because consumers will be able to get their cars fixed at independent mechanics' shops where they will have access to the same diagnostic information as dealership mechanics. Dealership mechanics generally charge more. The bill's backers include the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, which represents companies like Napa and Auto Zone and Napa. The Coalition for Auto Repair Equality, which represents Midas, Jiffy Lube, and others also supports the bill.

Opponents said the measure is a way for generic auto parts makers like Auto Zone and Pep Boys to get information that will allow them to reverse-engineer parts and manufacture them generically.

"This bill is about parts, not repairs," said Charles Territo, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a national group of 11 auto companies. "We're disappointed that despite all the opposition, the Senate still passed the legislation and we look forward to moving this battle to the House."

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced June 28 the investment of up to $24 million for three research groups to tackle key hurdles in the commercialization of algae-based biofuels. The selections will support the development of a clean, sustainable transportation sector-a goal of the Department's continued effort to spur the creation of the domestic bio-industry while creating jobs.

"Partnerships such as these focus the creative powers of the public, private and academic sectors on key challenges facing the development of renewable energy for transportation," said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Cathy Zoi. "The United States must find effective ways to hasten the development of technologies for advanced biofuels made from algae and other renewable resources to reduce our need for foreign sources of oil." Zoi made the announcement while speaking June 28 at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) 2010 World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing.

The consortia consist of partners from academia, national laboratories and private industries that are based across the country, broadening the geographic range and technical expertise of DOE partners in the area of algal biofuels. Projects are expected to continue for a period of three years. Together, they represent a diversified portfolio that will help accelerate algal biofuels development with the objective of significantly increasing production of affordable, high-quality algal biofuels that are environmentally and economically sustainable.

Mazda North American Operations July 6 announced the launch of a NEW Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program designed to maximize the value of a pre-owned Mazda.

Volkswagen of America, Inc. June 29 announced a VW-Certified Collision Repair Facility program for U.S. dealer-affiliated and independent body shops. This program provides VW-certification for collision repair facilities performing repairs in accordance with Volkswagen’s high safety standards and specifications.

Thursday, 01 July 2010 17:16

ASA Tours Thatcham Facility in UK

Representing the Automotive Service Association's (ASA) Collision Division, Jerry Burns, AAM, ASA chairman, and Denise Caspersen, manager of ASA's Collision Division, recently toured the Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre - or Thatcham, as it is more widely known - in Berkshire, United Kingdom.

The tour was scheduled to coincide with ASA's participation in the International Bodyshop Industry Symposium (IBIS) in London June 9-11. The theme of IBIS 2010 was "Raise the Standard."

Standards developed by Thatcham involve all stakeholders and industry segments, including repairers and insurance companies, said Burns. "It alleviates conflict between the two groups while ensuring each vehicle is repaired to specification from the vehicle manufacturer," he said. Thatcham's ability to move the standards issue forward is something ASA has been monitoring for some time.

The main aim of Thatcham is to carry out research targeted at containing or reducing the cost of motor insurance claims, while maintaining safety and quality standards. Thatcham was established in 1969 by British insurers.

"ASA's board of directors and Collision Division Operations Committee continue to see value in industry standards," said Caspersen. "In addition to alleviating conflicts between repairers and insurance companies, these standards lead to an outstanding level of consistency in processes, skills, equipment and materials. ASA's Collision Division Operations Committee first began discussions with Thatcham regarding standards during the International Autobody Congress & Exposition (NACE) in 2007."

Employing more than 150 people, the Thatcham center is well-equipped with a range of collision repair equipment used for both research and training purposes. It also has a vehicle impact testing laboratory and a sled facility for nondestructive testing.