Google’s Cute-As-A-Bug Electric Buggy Released In California Part I


Google, after 700,000 miles of testing, has released its first true driverless vehicle to be driven on surface streets and not highways just yet. The body they put it into was an electric buggy, I’m sure as time goes on that there will be at least a few choices of body types, but for now, we have this cute as a bug buggy.

Everything about the new test program that Google co-founder Sergey Brin revealed last week, from the design of its two-seat prototypes to the decision to test them on city streets instead of highways, points toward a personal transportation system that directly challenges the driver-centered, ownership-based business model the auto industry has relied on for a century.

“If you look at a vehicle purchase today, it’s the second largest purchase most people in America make, and it’s a resource that basically sits idle for 95 percent of the time,” Christopher Urmson, the director of Google’s self-driving cars project, told reporters. “It’s kind of a poor capital investment, in some senses.”

Google’s idea of this app, is not a more accurate map or sensor to assist the driver but rather a vehicle that targets a pressing need for urban mobility without the need for a driver or driving at all. It envisions a network of self-guided, battery-powered vehicles standing ready in urban areas, able to be summoned with a tap on a smartphone and capable of taking their passengers to any destination.

Last year, Google led a $258 million investment in the on-demand taxi service through its Google Ventures capital arm.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick acknowledged the connection at a conference last week in California. “When there’s no other dude in the car,” the blog TechCrunch quoted him as saying, in reference to the driver, “the cost of taking an Uber anywhere becomes cheaper than owning a vehicle.”

Do You Know How Paint Material Caps Apply To You, In Your State? Part II

Paint material invoice pic


Case in point, Missouri, there is a fair claims section (20CSR100-1.050 Section (20) (d) which reads that an insurer “cannot prepare an estimate unless the amount is such that the person can reasonably be expected to have the care repaired for the estimated amount.” If you only look at the word reasonable, you will see that this is a nightmare. Reasonable to who? Your idea of reasonable may be completely different than mine so it’s open to interpretation and a set up for the repairers locked into a head butt with the insurers. Repairers are forced to use other words to collect their cost on paint and materials and find themselves having to prove their need for any additional paint material allowances. It’s a nightmare.

So then, what does paint and materials really mean? Does it include body fillers, special bonding agents, etc. or would you consider these things to be body supplies? Then, if they’re not, why isn’t there a line item for these items? Are they simply a part of the overhead? If so, how can you effectively raise your prices in other things so that the shop or personal business doesn’t fail in the end? For most, this cost is too absorbent and a shutdown is sure to follow.

It is thought that throwing out the Paint & Materials line item or referencing it as “Only estimated Paint & Materials-actual cost to be billed on invoice amount.” This would be a simple solution and would be the easiest and most financially responsible method for all concerned.

Without some sort of true definition of paint and materials and the method of calculating/billing is changed, there will always be some sort of conflict on every level ways to lose weight quickly. In the meantime, while waiting for the impossible, try the method above and stay connected to the changes that will hopefully come.

Do You Know How Paint Material Caps Apply To You, In Your State? Part I

Paint material invoice pic

Insurance companies put paint material caps on estimates, is there a law regarding this? And how does this apply to you and your estimates? Is this happening in your state, and if so what does it mean?

These are questions being asked throughout the industry. It’s not as if this is new information, it’s been going on for a good long time, but it gets more and more frustrating when the insurance companies have made a career out of interpreting the information in thousands of ways. One day there is a cap and the next there isn’t. The states that do have statutes are Virginia, Connecticut, New York and Kansas.

The states, as mentioned above, have their own statutes and should be read carefully so that there is as much understanding as there can be. The overall wording can be quite confusing and I almost believe that this cause of confusion is intentional. The main problem that surrounds these statutes is the interpretation so what the repairer thinks they understand and what the insurance companies are sure of what they understand put the two in the center of conflict and bad feelings sprout from this.

It would be great if there were some common understanding that could end this ongoing feud, but as of yet, that hasn’t happen. These statutes seem to fall in a gray area and there is no hope in sight. Additionally, the states that do have the statutes are also indecisive on what the meaning is and some take a dimmer view than others. The issue, in all of its confusion, isn’t even made into a true state-by-state list. In most cases, the repairers have learned how to get around the issues and deal with them on a case-by-case basis. I suppose it has a lot more to do with which insurance company’s they are dealing with.

Industry Changes Are Coming, Will You Be Okay?


It’s true that there has been a great deal of information surrounding the topic of Ford’s upcoming release of the 2015 F150 and its military-grade aluminum alloy body and high-strength steel frame.

The Collision Industry has been rocked out of its comfort zone. Some in the industry have been reduced to sheer panic while others are completely ignoring the entire process and feel that it will soon turn around and go back to ‘business as usual’. For the latter, i’m sorry to say, that is not going to happen. In fact, I think that the industry should be continuously on their toes and anticipate that there will be many changes coming down the pipeline. Embracing the future can be exciting and yes scary at the same time. But that’s what is so exhilarating.

At the recent Collision Industry Conference, the buzz was afoot and many were concerned about the fact that in our industry, there are still many that haven’t conquered welding on steel yet. The focus on aluminum is taking away from the technical challenges that are still afoot, such as Carbon Fiber, Collision Avoidance Systems and the new translucent finishes coming from OEMs, even glass has its own set of challenges.

The fact is, until our industry can catch up to the industry changes that have already happened in just the past year itself, it will be difficult to move forward with the additional education needed for working with military-grade aluminum. This, I believe, is the making or breaking point of each individual and shop within the industry and if we don’t seize every opportunity to gain the additional knowledge and experience needed to progress, then I fear there will be many left behind. It comes down to perspective and focus.

There’s no need for panic, but there is need to open your eyes and figure out how you fit into the grand scheme of things. Be positive about the changes and make your move when you feel the time is right. Do keep in mind that automakers are working towards the mandates that CAFE has demanded, meaning that by 2016 automakers must hit the 35.5 miles per gallon and by 2025, 54.5.


How To Get Rid Of The Parts Department Middle Man Part II



April 23, 2014—PartsTrader announced Wednesday that it has completed the national deployment of its electronic parts procurement system. When PartsTrader first rolled out in 2013, a considerable amount of opposition was met almost immediately. The reason for this opposition was due to the system’s inclusion of State Farm Insurance’s Select Service DRP.

State Farm was quick to get on-board, so much so that their Select Service shops are required to use the parts procurement system in a number of states. This was met with a great deal of negative response and two associations in particular, Automotive Service Association and the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey, jumped right in voicing their opinions.

This is exactly what the state of Ohio is fighting. They have created a Bill that will not allow insurance companies to have favorites such as the Select Service Shops list mentioned above. If the Bill passes, all collision repair shops will be able to have DRP affiliations with the insurance companies. You may want to read up on that before you get too excited. Insurance companies pay so little for the collision repair that they may bleed you dry.

Now, regardless of direct repair program affiliations, PartsTrader fairly provides a platform that positions repairers at the center of the parts procurement process. As a matter of fact, PartsTrader CEO Rob Cooper says “We are committed to giving repairers and suppliers a product of choice by continuing to adapt it to their changing needs. Earlier this year we introduced the industry’s first system for tracking two-way repairer and supplier performance feedback. For example, repairers now have the ability to rate suppliers based on service and quality of the parts delivered. This ensures that each party can make a fully informed business decision before placing or responding to an order. Most recently, we’ve enhanced vehicle mapping capabilities and improved integration with the estimating systems, and have many more exciting features on the near term horizon.”

How To Get Rid Of The Parts Department Middle Man Part I


How much would you appreciate not having to go to the part store for parts of any kind? No more standing in line waiting your turn, interrupting your day and work progress, the list goes on and on. The benefits are tremendous and far outweigh any previous experience. As a PDR Technician, your parts needs may be less than say a body shop or a mechanic. But imagine if you will, that you are quoting a vehicle for collision repair and already you see that there are parts that will need to be replaced. Once you have removed the dents there is collateral damage, such as the running lights or the headlight frame and even the bulb. True, you may not have physically fixed these areas but that doesn’t mean that once you do repair the area that you are responsible for fixing is perfect but the hardware no longer is.

Imagine again, that you are at a customer’s home and you are quoting a job. By now you have enough experience to know that you will need these parts to complete the whole finished product. Fortunately for you, PartsTrader is just a click away. You submit what you need, and you receive a response within 15 minutes. You may receive several bids. All you have to do now is let your customer know how much the parts will be and they can sign off on it. Place your order and the parts are at your door within a couple of days. How much easier can it get?

PartsTrader is an electronic parts procurement system that had its initial pilot launch just over 25 months ago. Since that time 750,000 quote requests have been processed and one million orders have been confirmed click here to find out more. The initial national rollout began in August 2013 with the real roll out this past April 17th.  Collision repairers and even parts suppliers have access to this program in all 48 continental states and the District of Columbia.

Body Shop Owners And PDR Technicians: Aluminum Alloy Is Here To Stay Part V



For a body shop, not a PDR Technician, you will need to provide an Explosion-Proof Vacuum to clean excess dust from the clean room. This type of vacuum sucks the hazardous particles into a water bath to prevent thermite reactions and explosions. As a PDR Technician, you’re going to want to be sure that the body shop that hires you for piece work, has this vacuum.

In addition, the body shop should have a Gas Evacuation System, this removes all welding gases and dust. This system has different facility requirements and local OSHA regulations. Another thing to be looking for in the clean room is a 30# Class D Fire Extinguisher. This type of fire extinguisher is especially geared towards thermite reactions. A normal fire extinguisher will actually spread this type of fire. The average cost for this type of fire extinguisher is approximately $40.

Eye Goggles and Gloves should also be separate from the general population safety equipment. Perhaps as a PDR Technician you can just carry your own to be sure.

All of the above are for nonstructural aluminum repairs. If the body shop wants to work on structural repairs, then depending on the manufacturer’s requirements, there are special tools that need to be purchased such as a MIG Welder which is different from manufacturer to manufacturer. Riveting Tools need to be high-strength and have the same clamping abilities as those used by the aerospace industry. Also needed is a Frame Bench, Bonding Agents and Guns. Aren’t you glad you’re a PDR Technician and not a body shop owner?

All of these changes for a body shop, is quite expensive. However, this is an investment that body shops will not be able to avoid for long. Without these changes, there will be an increase of aluminum vehicles that will come in for work that they will have to send away. This is just bad for business on a couple of levels.

Gone are the days of a hammer, spray gun and a can of Bondo. Body shops need to diversify and not allow ignorance to have a negative impact on potential revenue.

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