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1HomePageMap small se 0816Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and West Virginia

It is difficult for most of us to imagine leading a productive life without a car at our immediate disposal, yet the United States Bureau of Transportation estimates that over 15 million Americans have difficulty getting the transportation they need.

This fact illustrates a great need for something most of us take for granted, and for this reason, the National Auto Body Council (NABC) is pleased to announce that the lives of two deserving Florida families were changed forever during the CCC Industry Conference which took place on May 17 at the Sawgrass Marriott in Jacksonville, Florida.

The families received the gift of reliable transportation through Recycled Rides®, a national initiative through which National Auto Body Council members—men and women putting their superior craftsmanship to benevolent use—refurbish donated vehicles and gift them to families in need and organizations dedicated to assisting others.

The Canton Nissan plant in Mississippi began making the Altima back in 2004, and now its employees will work on the new, fifth-generation model, as the 2013 model year car has begun rolling off the line.

The Canton plant, which also builds body-on-frame trucks, has put full priority on the 2013 Altima, building it in three shifts.

The new 2013 model year midsize sedan is actually based on the old model’s platform, but it has been heavily restyled and modified.

The base 2013 Altima comes with a 2.5-liter 182hp inline-four, starting at $21,500 and the top-of-the line model gets a 3.5-liter V6, in SL trim, it will grab just over $30,000.

“Today’s successful start of production of the Nissan Altima, our top-selling vehicle, only can happen because of the support of our dedicated workforce in Canton,” said Bill Krueger, vice chairman, Nissan Americas. “The Canton team builds among the highest-quality vehicles in the industry, and we are looking forward to bringing their production expertise to the next generation of this award-winning car.”

Honda is adding the Acura MDX sport utility to the production lineup in Alabama next year, and the move will open up a new export market for the Lincoln plant’s products.

Some of the MDX vehicles made at the plant will be shipped to China, said Tom Shoupe, head of Honda’s Alabama operations.

A small percentage of the plant’s vehicles, now Odyssey minivans, Pilot SUVs and Ridgeline pickups, are exported each year to markets including the Middle East, South America and Central America. Pilots are also shipped to Russia.

The MDX, now produced at a Honda plant in Canada, has been exported to China for several years in small numbers, so that will continue after the production switch. Last year, 485 MDX vehicles were shipped to China, Honda spokesman Ed Miller said.

The SUV is sold in the United States. The MDX move will give Honda more room in Canada to build the popular CR-V SUV. Acura is Honda’s luxury vehicle division, and the MDX will be the first Acura product built in Alabama.

The Boyd Group Inc. announced June 4 the opening of a collision repair center in Orlando, Florida which commenced operations on May 30, 2012 as well as the acquisition of another new location in Jessup, Maryland on May 25, 2012.

Both repair centers will operate under the Gerber Collision & Glass trade name. This brings the total number of U.S. locations in operation to 141 with two additional locations acquired, soon to be in operation.

The new Orlando repair center, originally acquired on March 22, 2012 and previously known as Leading Edge Collision, is approximately 10,000 square feet in size, with 6,500 square feet of production space.

Florida is a market Gerber first entered in January, and this latest center bolsters the number of locations operating in this market to nine locations. Orlando, the fifth largest city in Florida, is considered an attractive market by the company.

The new Jessup repair center, the eighth in Maryland, was previously known as ACI Auto Collision and is approximately 13,000 square feet in size, of which 11,000 square feet is production space.

A law restricting texting while driving was approved by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, and it may have insurance implications for drivers who violate the ban after it takes effect.

Fines for using a hand-held device to text behind the wheel will be $25 for first-time violators, $50 for a second offense and $75 for the third and any subsequent violations. For each violation, the law will also institute a two-point penalty against a driver’s record, which auto insurance companies may be able to view as lawful justification for insurance-rate hikes.

The law goes into effect on Aug. 1, 2012.

“Signing this bill sends a message that drivers need to focus on driving, not on sending a text,” Gov. Bentley said in a statement. “There is nothing so urgent that it is worth risking your life, or the lives of others, by sending a text message while you are driving down the road.”

Anger over the proposed State Farm PartsTrader program revived a sleeping giant in Mississippi, revitalizing the previously dormant Mississippi Collision Repair Association, which met on May 23 for the first time in many years.

“Due to many factors, our association as been inactive for almost eight years,” said Chad Smith, treasurer of the Mississippi Collision Repair Association and co-owner of Smith Bros. Collision Center with two locations in Brookhaven and McComb. “But the new State Farm program has re-ignited our association’s fire!”

The years may have gone by in comfort and complacency, but the controversy and negativity surrounding the State Farm Proposed Parts Procurement Program within its Select Service Program changed all that. More than 100 MCRA members, as well as Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood and John Wells of the Mississippi Department of Insurance, came together in Pearl, Miss. to hear what body shop owners from Birmingham, AL had to say about the PartsTrader program. Birmingham is one of the four national test markets where the PartsTrader program is being tested.