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Friday Fun: Claims in Newfoundland go ‘through the roof’; Canada and US auto sales show stark contrast

West Vancouver police impounded this Ferrari after catching the driver going more than three times the speed limit on Vancouver’s Lions Gate Bridge. According to a statement from police, the same driver was ticketed for speeding in April, after being pulled over by the same officer … on the same bridge.

By Jeff Sanford

Toronto, Ontario — July 6, 2017 — In this week’s edition of Friday Fun: Auto insurance angst in Newfoundland and Labrador, a Ferrari doing 200 kilometres per hour on BC’s Lions Gate bridge Volvo plans to phase out internal combustion and much, much more!

– West Vancouver police impounded a Ferrari from a driver who had rocketed it over the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver at 200 kilometres per hour. A police statement reported by the CBC said the driver was pulled over, “… after an on-duty officer heard it speeding northbound. The car was clocked at 210 km/h—more than three times the 60 km/h limit,” according to one report.

Constable Jeff Palmer was quoted as saying it was “fortunate” the bridge was empty. “If there had been any other traffic on the bridge at the time, the driver would come over the crest and have no opportunity to react to traffic travelling anywhere near the speed limit ahead of them,” he said according to the CBC. “The potential for catastrophic consequences of a vehicle impacting on anything at that speed, it’s just through the roof.”

The 2015 Ferrari 458 was impounded for a week. The driver, just 22, was ticketed for excessive speeding. Police said this isn’t the first time the driver has been stopped for speeding. In April, the West Vancouver resident was ticketed after being pulled over by the same officer, on the same bridge! Before that, he was ticketed twice for speeding in other jurisdictions. Palmer said West Vancouver police will be recommending charges of driving without due care and attention under the Motor Vehicle Act. The driver is due in court this September.

– The government of Newfoundland and Labrador is calling on the Public Utilities Board to, “… find out why automobile insurance claims in Newfoundland and Labrador are going through the roof.” According to a local radio station VCOM, the Minister for Government Services, Perry Trimper, announced last week the, “… Public Utilities Board will be doing a comprehensive review on insurance claims.” According to the report, “The Insurance Bureau of Atlantic Canada says this province has higher insurance claims than any other province in Atlantic Canada, but it’s unsure as to why.” The report says the minister “… hopes to have changes to the Automobile Insurance Act in place by the fall of 2018.”

Amanda Dean, VP of the Insurance Bureau of Atlantic Canada, was interviewed for the story. She is attributed as saying that “all stakeholders have to come together and figure it out.” Apparently, “Between 2012 and 2015, there was $1.1-billion paid in premiums, but $950-million paid in claims.”

– Autobody shops and insurers in Omaha, Nebraska, are “flooded with claims and repairs” after a storm dropped “baseball-sized hail” on the region. The owner of a Metro Glass outfit in Omaha was quoted as saying, “It’s a really serious situation. It’s widespread, pretty severe damage to all the vehicles and everyone wants to get in as soon as they can.” According to the story, State Farm announced it was setting up, “… a drive-through, where people can make an appointment to have an adjuster look at their vehicle.”

– As Tesla gets ready to begin delivery of its new Model 3, the automaker is adding more “mobile rangers” to its fleet of mechanical repair techs. A story on Inside EVs notes that Tesla recently sent out a letter to investors stating: “Since more than 80 percent of our repairs are so minor that they can be done remotely, we are expanding our mobile repair service that allows Tesla to make vehicle repairs at an owner’s home or office.” The story goes on to note that, “EVs in general have much less regular maintenance as well. Major collision repairs are expected to take longer, regardless of the automaker, and in that case, cars would obviously go to a service centre, and Tesla would provide a loaner.” But for smaller repairs the company is going to use the mobile repair techs who show up at a home or an office to do the repairs. 

Mercedes attempted a mobile service program years ago, but “it never worked out,” according to the report. The President of the automotive consultancy Edwards & Associates Consulting, Larry Edwards, was quoted as saying, “When demand starts growing, I can only imagine what it would cost to have multiple technicians and all the parts necessary available on the road. It’s an expensive proposition.”

– Canada and the United States are “heading in different directions when it comes to auto sales,” according to a story in the Globe & Mail. Canadian vehicle sales could reach two million in 2017. The first six months are on track for that number. One million vehicles have been sold in Canada in the first six months of the year, according to the most recent reports. The strong sales are the opposite of sales trends in the United States, “where deliveries dropped last month and have declined from the record pace of 2016.”

The reason for the strong sales in Canada? The Canadian economy is performing better than expected. In Alberta in particular, car and truck sales are up 11 percent year over year. The reason given: “Capital spending by oil patch companies has resulted in increased purchases of cars and trucks by businesses. In Calgary in particular, fleet volume sales have jumped by 20 percent from last year and sales in the city represent half of the increase in fleet sales across the country.”

– A remarkably well-timed regulatory issue will see production of the Windsor-made Dodge Grand Caravan, “… halt in the fall over American government regulations.” The shutdown was reported in Collision Repair magazine a couple of weeks ago, but more details have emerged. According to the Windsor Star, “… production of the 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan for the US market only will be temporarily suspended from September to November at the Windsor Assembly Plant.” The statement was attributed to FCA Canada. The story goes on to say that, “Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has known for a couple of years about pending US ‘regulatory action’ that would need to be addressed, and which could affect US production of the Caravan, so the issue is not a surprise. FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne addressed the issue in 2015 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, in response to a reporter’s question: ‘There are technical reasons why that car cannot be sold for a much longer period of time than the current time. It’s just there are regulations that are coming into effect in 2017 that are going to restrict it.’”

– All Volvo car models launched after 2019 will be electric or hybrids, according to a statement from the Sweden-based (but Chinese-owned) company. A report in the Globe & Mail says this will make Volvo the first, “…. major traditional auto maker to set a date for phasing out vehicles powered solely by the internal combustion engine. The Sweden-based company will continue to produce pure combustion-engine Volvos from models launched before that date, but its move signals the eventual end of nearly a century of Volvos powered solely that way. ‘This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car,’ Volvo Cars CEO Hakan Samuelsson said.” The electric models will be, “… supplemented by a range of petrol and diesel plug in hybrid and mild hybrid 48-volt options on all models. This means that there will in future be no Volvo cars without an electric motor … This also means we won’t be doing other things. We of course will not be developing completely new generations of combustion engines.”

– Canby Motors, a vehicle collision repair firm in Baltimore, “took the lead” in assembling a so-called Tribute vehicle in the city. A trend in the US these days is to see vehicles donated to police forces and finished in a way that offers tribute to fallen members of the force. In this case, a black 2015 Ford SUV was taken apart and put back together, “… with new exhaust pipes, new wheels and hand-painted Sheriff’s Office logos and shields on the doors and hood. The names of all seven deputies who died in the line of duty, from 1899 to 2016, are on the vehicle’s rear window.”

The refurb work was donated to the Sheriff’s Office, according to a report in the Baltimore Sun. The vehicle bears a Maryland vanity license plate that says, “Tribute.” According to the story, “Representatives of Canby and the other businesses that supported them also were present Monday to accept awards for the businesses and the individuals who worked on the SUV. The businesses honored included Speedesign, National Coatings and Supplies, BASF Corporation, RPS Dent Specialists, Plaza Ford, Forest Hill Automotive, Canby Motors and Firestone Complete Auto Care.” The bodyshop manager at Canby Motors, “… handled the airbrushing of the logos. Sheriff’s Office officials noted it was a combined 120 hours on the doors alone. ‘At the end it really turned out nice, and we’re really honoured to be able to do this for the Sheriff’s Office’,” the customizer was quoted as saying.

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