Auto Service World
Feature   November 1, 2007   by Auto Service World

News – 01-NOV-07

Over the Counter November 2007


Historic Union Deal For Magna

Magna International Inc. has announced the signing of an historic agreement with the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) that will usher in a new relationship between the two parties. The Framework of Fairness Agreement (FFA) is a set of principles that establishes the needs of workers and the needs of business to be competitive.

The FFA represents a new labour model that aims to preserve the key components of Magna’s Fair Enterprise system, while ensuring proper checks and balances. Frank Stronach, chairman of Magna’s Board of Directors, said in a statement, “The traditional, confrontational model of labour relations is unproductive and wastes energy that would be better focused on creating the conditions which would be fair to employees and would ensure that Magna remains competitive in the global automotive industry,” he said.

“Magna recognizes that the CAW has the ability to be an important ally in addressing the many competitive challenges our industry is facing, ensuring the needs of employees and society are balanced against the needs of our other stakeholders, namely customers, investors and other business partners.

“We are pleased that the CAW is willing to embark with us on this groundbreaking agreement.”

The FFA will be introduced to employees in Magna’s Canadian manufacturing divisions over a period of several years. Magna divisional employees will have the opportunity to vote on whether to approve a new contract under the terms of the FFA, and join the CAW. If a majority of workers in a facility vote in favour, then that plant will be covered by a new Magna-CAW national collective agreement. Representation by the CAW, the national contract and subsequent changes negotiated to that national contract would be subject to approval through secret-ballot votes in each plant.

Magna has approximately 83,000 employees in 229 manufacturing operations and 62 product development and engineering centres in 23 countries.

NAPA Launches New Online Training

Robert Hattem, president and COO of UAP Inc., has announced the launch of the NAPA Centre of Excellence, an important online training centre for Canada’s automotive aftermarket industry.

More than 20,000 industry workers will benefit from the services and programs available at this centre. Thanks to an agreement with CARS, the NAPA Centre of Excellence currently offers on its website (www.napaexcellence.ca) more than 200 technical or specialized management courses that are on video, given by certified trainers, and accessible at any time (24/7) in both French and English.

“A great deal of technological change has taken place over the past several years in the automotive industry and the trend will only gather speed as we go forward. The NAPA Centre of Excellence is designed to allow all of our customers and their employees across Canada, as well as the employees of our nearly 600 corporate and associate stores, to master this new technology in order to always provide Canadian drivers with the best service available in our industry,” says Hattem.

“The NAPA Centre of Excellence’s experts will help subscribed customers assess their personnel’s training needs and design appropriate skills development programs,” he says.

“They will also provide technical support to assist our customers in the use of this new leading-edge training service.”

Professional development has become a major issue in the automotive aftermarket industry. According to the company, the creation of a first-class online training centre accessible by any computer on the Internet is the best solution for meeting the industry’s needs in every corner of the country.

TriMas to Close Huntsville, Ontario Plant

TriMas Corporation has announced that it is closing its Huntsville, Ontario plant, which manufactures trailer hitches and related accessories for the automobile and light-duty truck aftermarket. The plant has 163 employees and utilizes approximately 56,000 square feet in the production of aftermarket trailer hitch products, distributed under the Cequent brand name.

“We regret having to close our Huntsville facility because of the long-standing and excellent relationship we have had with our employees and the Huntsville community,” says Edward L. Schwartz, Cequent Group president.

The Huntsville plant operations will be phased out by December 2007.

Headquartered in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., TriMas Corporation is a diversified growth company of high-end, specialty niche businesses manufacturing a variety of products for commercial, industrial and consumer markets worldwide.

University of Aftermarket Adopts New Web Look

Like several leading aftermarket manufacturers and distribution organizations, the University of the Aftermarket has enhanced its presence on the World Wide Web with a highly interactive new website, at www.northwood.edu/aftermarket. The new site replaces the functionally limited site established when the University of the Aftermarket became an operating unit of Northwood University.

“Today’s University of the Aftermarket brings a powerful, creative new approach to educational programming for aftermarket professionals,” says university director Jimsey Keith. “Our new website communicates this new energy and strengthens the connection between our programs and one of North America’s premier sources of industry-specific higher education.”

Featuring the same dynamic functionality and interactive tools available through any leading college or university website, the site enables industry professionals to access information on dozens of new workshops, chart their path to an aftermarket-specific professional designation, and download a variety of presentations and other materials. The new site also provides detailed descriptions of employee workshops and other custom programs available to aftermarket businesses of all types and sizes, as well as an in-depth guide to the University’s signature training experience, Leadership 2.0.

The University of the Aftermarket provides high quality continuing education programming to people involved in manufacturing, retail and service for the automotive and commercial vehicle aftermarkets. An educational alliance of the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA), Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA), and Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA), the University of the Aftermarket is an operating unit of Northwood University, a private institution specializing in management and entrepreneurial education.

BorgWarner Expects Huge Growth in Dual-Clutch Technology

BorgWarner has announced it expects production of dual-clutch transmission modules to increase by 500% over the next six years.

At full launch of announced programs under contract in 2012-2013, the company will be providing its DualTronic technology to an expected 2.3 million dual-clutch transmissions per year. Fewer than 450,000 dual-clutch transmissions a year are produced today.

This dramatic growth will be driven by BorgWarner’s first-to-market position in dual-clutch transmission technology with awarded business from transmission and vehicle makers around the world. These include programs with VW, Audi, Bugatti, and SAIC, to name a few.

“BorgWarner’s introduction of dual-clutch transmission technology into the growing automatic transmission market has provided automakers worldwide with opportunities for tangible fuel economy enhancements, emissions reductions and performance benefits,” says Dr. Bernd Matthes, president and general manager, BorgWarner Transmission Systems.

“With legislation driving issues like fuel economy and emissions reduction, and consumers looking for performance and drivability enhancement, the demand for dual-clutch transmissions is increasing.”

The clutch and
transmission control technology enables a conventional, manual gearbox to function as a fully automatic transmission while delivering improved fuel efficiency and a fun-to-drive experience.

Global manufacturing capacity for BorgWarner dual-clutch transmission modules will be supported by expansion of its facilities in Germany and China, and a new facility in Mexico.

Chinese Auto Market Grows 26% in 2007

The passenger vehicle market in China grew 26 percent in the first half of 2007, according to data released by R. L. Polk & Co. Excluding vans and pick-up trucks, Polk forecasts an annual total registration volume of 4.7 million passenger vehicles by the end of 2007. The market’s annual growth rate has been above 20 percent since 2004. Toyota showed the highest growth in China with a 72.6 percent increase in vehicle registrations year-over-year (YOY). Honda and Nissan came in second and third, showing 40.3 percent and 38.9 percent growth respectively, while Chery followed in fourth position at 27.9 percent. Geely and Hyundai-Kia were the only major manufacturers that experienced a YOY decrease in registrations.

The Chinese market is dominated by medium-sized vehicles that experienced a growth in market share from 34.1 percent in the first quarter of 2004 to 47.5 percent in the second quarter of 2007. In addition, the shares of small vehicles and larger vehicles decreased in the same period, from 28.8 percent to 19.3 percent and 9.3 percent to 6.1 percent respectively. “Polk has analyzed the price development of passenger vehicles in different body sizes and learned that the average price of medium-sized vehicles has continuously decreased over the last three and a half years,” says Stephen Polk. “As a result, this segment has grown as Chinese buyers have responded by purchasing more of these vehicles.”

Michelin Hits One Million Mark

Michelin’s Bridgewater facility has reached another significant milestone with the production of the facility’s 100 millionth tire.

“The production of the 100 millionth tire is an important event for everyone here at Michelin in Bridgewater,” says Dana LeBlanc, plant manager of Michelin’s Bridgewater facility.

“Since 1973, the Bridgewater facility has been a leading example throughout Michelin of producing quality tires. Achieving this production milestone again demonstrates how Michelin in Bridgewater is dedicated to being a leader in the manufacturing sector in Nova Scotia,” she says.

Letters to the Editor . . .

Just reading the Sept. issue. I was glad to see a story on the improved parts person training that is now available in B.C.

Also, you have a couple of letters about young people not taking up a career or quitting their apprenticeship due to negative influence from schools and employers. The trend or realities of this are far greater than we may think. Here in B.C., AIA is involved with BCAA/BCIT on the student skills challenge program. This year, of the 22 students who competed in the provincial finals, only two have taken up apprenticeships to join our industry. Granted, they may be taking training outside of B.C. so we would not have that info, but I think this is very minor. If our industry cannot even keep kids from the high schools who have been enrolled in automotive classes we may be facing a bigger crisis than we had previously thought. This “leakage” of bright young potential techs may be something our industry needs to address. You can be sure that I will be discussing this with AIA but I thought this might interest you also.

Thanks,

Ron Killby

AIA Canada

Regional Coordinator, Western Canada


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