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The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has delayed the effective date of an amendment that reorganizes and improves the structure and clarity of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 108 for Lamps, Reflective Devices and Associated Equipment. The agency received 15 petitions against the final rule, including requests for delays and concerns of new requirements being imposed by FMVSS No. 108, causing them to delay its implementation from Sept. 1, 2008, to Dec. 1, 2009.
Wednesday, 03 September 2008 15:24

Demand for skilled auto techs high

Grease monkey mechanics at the local garage are long gone.

Automotive News is reporting that August was another tough month in the United States for Toyota Motor Corp. and the Detroit 3, while Nissan Motor Co. posted a solid gain.

Whether insurer direct repair program (DRP) requirements and guidelines should be published, and whether a single person within an insurance company should be able to control whether a particular shop is allowed to participate in that company’s DRP, were among proposed reforms discussed in July by a panel of insurer, shop and association representatives.

A widely watched fraud trial pressed by Progressive Insurance against Gregory Coccaro of North State Custom in Bedford Hills, NY, was dismissed by State Supreme Court Judge Mary Smith on August 5.

ABRA Auto Body & Glass announced today that Don Crouse, Vice President of ABRA-Tennessee, has been elected to chair the Memphis I-CAR Committee. The vision of I-CAR is that every person in the collision industry, current and future, has the necessary knowledge and skills relevant to their position to achieve a complete and safe repair.

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) expressed its disappointment with a ruling by a Rhode Island Superior Court judge that would require every insurance carrier authorized to sell motor vehicle liability insurance in the state to conduct a labor rate survey and use this information as the sole determinant of the prevailing auto body labor rate.

Chrysler LLC announced today that it will invest approximately $1.8 billion in new vehicle programs, including a significant expansion and upgrade at its Jefferson North (Detroit) Assembly Plant to ready it for future production, starting in 2010. The announcement was made by Tom LaSorda, Chrysler LLC Vice Chairman and President, during a speech at the 2008 Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Michigan.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008 09:21

Tom McGee to Leave I-CAR

John Edelen, I-CAR’s President and CEO, announced that Tom McGee will be leaving the organization to pursue other interests.

Whether insurer direct repair program (DRP) requirements and guidelines should be published, and whether a single person within an insurance company should be able to control whether a particular shop is allowed to participate in that company’s DRP, were among proposed reforms discussed in July by a panel of insurer, shop and association representatives.
 

George Avery, Claims Consultant for State Farm, has announced that "The growing complexity of newer vehicle construction technology, specifically the increasing use of exotic metal alloys and steel" means the nation’s biggest auto insurer will no longer write estimates for full rear-body sectioning. Previously, the procedure would only be approved if the shop and the vehicle owner agreed to do so.

Friday, 08 August 2008 11:02

I-CAR Ed Fund Recruits Info From Industry

The I-CAR Education Foundation has changed its mission, making it a purely philanthropic organization supporting career and technical schools across North America. The organization has already achieved success with the recent announcement of $100,000 worth of scholarships, school curriculum grants, and instructor training grants awarded this past spring. However, the organization is seeking to learn as much as possible about how best to support career and technical schools and colleges for the benefit of the collision industry.

Executive Director Dan Risley has accepted a job offer with Allstate and will resign as Executive Director of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS). Risley has served as the executive director of SCRS for almost eight years and played an instrumental role in many of the successes that the national collision repair association experienced during that time.

Saturday, 02 August 2008 12:32

BASF Names Distributor of the Year

Superior Auto Paints, Baltimore, Maryland, was presented BASF’s ColorSource PREMIER Distributor of the Year. Keith Bell, Strategic Accounts manager at BASF, presented the award to Michelle Sullivan, president of Superior Auto Paints, at BASF’s annual ColorSource Premier Conference, held recently at the Sanibel Resort in Fort Meyers, Florida.

After a roller-coaster year that included staff layoffs and a change in top leadership, I-CAR leaders worked hard at the training organization’s annual meeting in late July to convey that I-CAR is newly refocused on its customers, volunteers and mission.

Saturday, 02 August 2008 12:07

Finishmaster Promotes Jeff Nabity

FinishMaster, Inc. has promoted  Jeffrey (“Jeff”) Nabity to Regional Sales Vice President, Southwest Region.

Saturday, 02 August 2008 11:59

Jack Farnan: Biz Journal HR Pro of the Year

Mitchell International Senior Vice President of Human Resources Jack Farnan has been named “HR Professional of the Year” by the San Diego Business Journal.
Saturday, 02 August 2008 11:52

APN Approves Expanding Co-op

The Assured Performance Network (APN) Board of Directors, comprised of 14 leading shop owners across the U.S., has approved the expansion of their co-op with dozens of new vendors, and as many as 200 qualified shops in 100 Metropolitan market areas. The co-op can now triple in size with additional shops and vendors. 

Saturday, 02 August 2008 11:28

FIX’s Ron Guilliams Now VP Client Services

FIX AUTO USA has appointed Ron Guilliams as the National Vice President of Client Services.  Ron previously served as Southern California Business Development Vice President working exclusively for the Fix Auto members in the Los Angeles Metro area.  In his new role Ron will oversee all of FIX AUTO USA’s national and local insurance relationships as well as coordinating local marketing efforts through the Business Development Managers throughout the country.

I-CAR’s International Annual Meeting was held in Scottsdale, Arizona, July 24-26 with approximately 300 members and guests in attendance. In addition to a fully loaded technical program, the event began and ended with some fun and relaxation featuring a spectacular golf tournament for the Education Foundation and a hot-rod “Cruisin’ Night” courtesy of the Arizona Street Rod Association.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008 10:14

LKQ Acquires Pick-Your-Part Auto Wrecking

LKQ Corporation (Nasdaq: LKQX) today announced the signing of an agreement to acquire Pick-Your-Part Auto Wrecking, an auto recycler with nine recycling locations in California that generated approximately $114.1 million of revenue in the twelve months ended December 31, 2007. The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions.

To Thwart Title Washing, Nation's 8th Largest Auto Insurer to Provide Information on Every Totaled Car

It happens all across the country: people purchase used cars without realizing they were totaled in crashes, floods and other disasters.

Calculate How Long it takes to Start Saving From a More Fuel-Efficient Vehicle

Should you dump the SUV for a gas-sipper? That’s the question everyone is asking these days.

Edmunds.com, the premier online resource for automotive information, helps consumers answer that question with today’s release of its Gas-Guzzler Trade-In Calculator.  The tool helps consumers determine the pay-back period and fuel savings associated with trading-in a fuel-thirsty vehicle for a more fuel-efficient one.

AutoUSA has reported a 273% increase in Toyota Prius consumer leads through May 2008 year-to-date.  AutoUSA’s Prius leads have been steadily growing over the past three years, more than doubling from last year with a significant spike over the past 6 months.

The lead volume for the Prius is indicative of the changing buying habits of consumers and new market demands. Ironically, in May 2008, Toyota reported a 40% drop in Prius sales due to a shortage of batteries that is likely to resolve in January 2009. The number of pre-orders is increasing.

One key piece of information helping environmental and gas-conscious consumers in their vehicle purchasing decision is Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).  AutoUSA provides a combination of advanced web-based technology and a network that includes the country’s most well respected online automotive resources, including Edmunds.com, Kelley Blue Book, MSN Autos, Yahoo! Autos, America Online, NADA Analytical Services Group, AutoVantage.com, AutoNation.com and AutoUSA.com.  To get into the AutoUSA program go to http://www.AutoUSA.com

Monday, 14 July 2008 09:38

Colossal Class Action Hits Texarkana

Like the common lore, everything may be bigger in Texas, except, it seems, when it comes to staggering legal action. Nobody tops Texarkana, Ark., these days.

RepairPal, an impartial source for auto care and repair available to consumers, is a free service that delivers objective, fair service price estimates, an extensive auto shop directory, and expert insights from certified mechanics. For the first time, consumers will benefit from proprietary industry data previously available only to professional automobile technicians. 

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to brief the Environmental Regulation Commission (ERC) on its rule development project for the adoption of the California motor vehicle emissions standards. The purpose of the hearing was to review comments received regarding the proposed adoption of California emissions standards. 

Two position statements on blending issues—including the use of the term “blending” in regard to labor and material reductions; and also deductions related to a number of specific refinish procedures have been approved by the board of the Automotive Service Association (ASA).

Insurance Industry Employs “Deny, Delay, Defend” Strategy, Puts Profits Over Policyholders

Allstate ranks as the worst insurer for consumers, according to a comprehensive investigation of thousands of legal documents and financial filings.

Thursday, 10 July 2008 09:50

CIC wants feedback on Best Practices

The July CIC meeting preceding ICAR will address Best Practices via two sets of working guidelines, one on COLLISION, the other on ESTIMATING

The four-day work week has been in place at Metro Accident Repair Center in Brook Park, OH since January 2008, and at Classic Accident Repair Center in Mentor, OH since June.

click for story 

The government is upgrading its crash test program for new cars and trucks to give consumers better information about vehicle safety.

TickerMine found that 50% of Maaco locations contacted reporting that business was down over the past few months, while 44% business had remained steady. Only 6% reported an increase in business levels.  56% of respondents reported that customers were now more likely to pay for major body work at a Maaco location as customers were trying to maintain resale values for their vehicles and wanted to forestall purchasing a new vehicle as long as possible.

Chuck Romano, the new owner of West Coast Collision, Cape Coral, FL, is proud of the business he took over a few months ago. He takes pride in the new lobby, with its custom colors and original artwork, and in his staff’s ability to recreate color on damaged car parts, often in the same day. He’s most proud of the waterborne technique is company is using.

EPA is amending the F019 hazardous waste listing to facilitate the use of aluminum in automobiles, light trucks and utility vehicles. Using aluminum parts produces lighter vehicles capable of increased gas mileage and decreased exhaust air emissions, including a reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases.

A new public database may protect American consumers, keep rolling wrecks off the highways and save lives in the process.

OTC Member States May Consider Current California Policy

The Ozone Transportation Committee (OTC) held its annual meeting last week to discuss upcoming initiatives for 2008--2009. During the meeting, OTC members referenced the new CARB Suggested Control Measure (SCM) for Automotive Coatings and made plans to consider the rule and its possible implementation in the OTC member states.

While most flood-damage claims in Wisconsin have been for homes and businesses, insurers are starting to see more claims for waterlogged automobiles and trucks.


Image It’s no surprise that Eileen Sottile has been promoted to Vice-President of Government Affairs for LKQ Corporation, (NASDAQ: LKQX). She was raised in Kingston, New York, a small colonial city 200 miles up the Hudson River from New York City. Known as “the breadbasket of the Revolution,” Kingston was the third Dutch colony in the New World and provided Washington’s troops with wheat and other food in 1777, eventually becoming the first capital of New York State. Sottile’s political roots stem from her Italian-Irish and Kingston heritage.
    The Sottile family are restauranteurs in Kingston and have always been very involved in politics. Sottile  and her five siblings grew up in the world of campaigns, fundraisers, meetings and political picnics in the midst of this family with a strong social conscience to serve the community.
    After graduating from the University of New York, Sottile served as an intern in N.Y. state for Senator Martin Conner. As a vigorous supporter for the advancement of human rights and working on issues of concern to women, this was a good fit for Sottile.
Situation
  • US Energy Dept providing $30M over 3 years for trio of plug-in vehicle projects
  • Only fraction of support automakers sought; money to be used for plug-in vehicle test fleets and accelerate mass production of battery technologies
  • Chrysler plans to build 80 plug-in vehicles over 3 years w/ GE; 10 Dodge Durangos, Chrysler Aspens built in 1st year able to travel 40 miles on battery power
  • GM along w/ state agencies won funding for project to enhance lithium-ion battery packs, charging systems, powertrain development and vehicle integration; will deploy plug-in test fleet
  • Ford working w/ Southern CA Edison, Johnson Controls-Saft on funded project to accelerate mass production of plug-in hybrids
  • Each automaker joint project will receive about $10M, energy department said
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Monday, 16 June 2008 12:07

4$ Gasoline May Change Habits

Situation
  • Gasoline prices shattered the $4/gal mark; almost $1 higher than 1 year ago
  • Crude oil trading at $134+/bbl, more gasoline price increases probably in pipeline
  • Federal officials reported 1st decline in miles driven on US roads since 1979
  • Nationwide, about 8% of Americans changed commuting patterns; taking public transportation
  • Energy (electricity, gasoline, heating) account for about 6.5% of average household budget
  • Estimated vehicle miles traveled on US roads for March fell 4.3%, or 11B, compared w/ March 2007
 

CHRYSLER RAISES PRICES 2% TO COUNTER COMMODITY COSTS

Chrysler LLC, the third-largest U.S.-based automaker, said it will boost prices an average of 2 percent on all 2008 model-year cars and trucks because of rising costs for steel and other commodities. The increase will take effect on vehicles shipped to dealers starting June 16, Chrysler spokesman Stuart Schorr said. Chrysler's U.S. sales fell 19 percent in the first five months of this year.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008 17:03

Toyota denies Tacoma is defective

Media inspired acceleration claims, it says

Some 431 customers from around the country have reported unintended or sudden acceleration in their Toyota Tacoma pickups, resulting in 51 crashes and 12 injuries, but Toyota said there are no flaws in the trucks and that many reports were "inspired by publicity."

The following three state associations rank the leading insurers consistently with State Farm at or near the top and Allstate, Nationwide, and Progressive near the bottom.

The Nebraska Autobody Association (NABA)

NABA announced that it completed tabulations of the annual survey that invites shops to rate insurance companies. NABA’s most recent survey was based on the 2007 calendar year and asked repairers to rank insurers on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the lowest (worst) rating and 10 being the highest (best) rating. State Farm Insurance with an overall rating of 8.38 stayed in the number one position, a spot it held for the past three years. Farmers Mutual Insurance, with a rating of 7.55, retained the number two-position, and Battlecreek, with a rating of 6.77, moved into the number three position a spot previously held by AAA in 2005 and Union Insurance in 2006.

click for full story on multipage PDF

by Ken Thomas, Claims Journal

From Jeannie Harrison's perspective, the social lives of most teenagers tend to revolve around their cell phones -- even when they are behind the wheel.

Scott McRoberts is out to make lives better, one individual at a time. Through the Wheels of Hope project, McRoberts, with six area churches as partners, helps create opportunities for people who seemingly have none.

Montana's insurance regulator John Morrison, said he wants to give consumers information on the conduct of insurance companies.

click for full story 

A broadcast quality video public service announcement (PSA) informing consumers of the illegality of insurance company steering, is being made available by the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) to its affiliate associations.

Over 150 industry professionals from Iowa and neighboring state Nebraska attended the Iowa Collision Repair Association’s ‘Show Up or Shut Up’ Spring Meeting April 24 at Prairie Meadows in Des Moines, Iowa. The National Collision Industry Legislative Forum Panel Discussion is an industry first: bringing like-minded people together from around the nation. A caucus, if you will.

Friday, 05 September 2008 10:05

Audatex forecasts an increase in total losses

Analysts at Audatex predict that rising costs of raw materials, a decline in wholesale used vehicle prices, and an older insured vehicle population will result in more vehicle being declared total losses during 2008 and 2009. In the most recent issue of the Audatex Directions collision repair industry trends publication, Michael T. Anderson and Brian Grainger note that since 2004 there has been a steady decline in the frequency of total losses.

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty signed into law legislation proposed by the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers, Minnesota (AASP-MN).  Senate File 3508/House File 3822 prohibits insurers from unilaterally and arbitrarily disregarding a repair operation or cost identified by an estimating system.  The legislation will become effective on August 1, 2008. 

Next week, on June 4 and 5, 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its state and local partners will offer free seminars in Washington, DC and Baltimore, Md. to educate the auto body repair community on the latest environmental regulations affecting their businesses. The workshop will also include demonstrations in best practices by an experienced auto finisher, as well as offer pollution prevention techniques that will save time and reduce waste. 

The Automotive Service Association (ASA), along with a coalition of various industry groups, has urged the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to finalize rulemaking that would prevent rebuilt, wrecked, flooded or stolen vehicles from unknowingly landing in consumer’s hands.

"The market has grown at a much faster clip than we thought," said GM President Frederick Henderson. "We're seeing all of our global competition running hard in Russia."

Repairers say MA law needed to protect independent shops and consumers

Three additional independent automotive repair organizations have announced their support for the Right to Repair bill currently before the Massachusetts Legislature on the eve of what is expected to be a critical vote by the committee that has been considering the legislation.

Almost all Americans believe they are safe drivers, yet almost three-quarters are guilty of distracted driving, a survey from Nationwide Insurance  finds.  90% of drivers believe DWD – Driving While Distracted – will only increase in future generations.

Ford Motor said it no longer believes that it will be profitable in 2009 and will instead post break-even results for the year. The news is a blow to the auto maker, which had vowed to be profitable in 2009 based on its continued-cost cutting practices in North America and increased international sales. Ford plans to cut 2008 production of large trucks and SUVs, citing customer shifts to more fuel-efficient cars and crossover SUVs.