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A team of Japanese engineers says it will have its 'Skydrive' vehicle ready for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

By Jeff Sanford

Toronto, Ontario -- May 26, 2016 -- Here’s to another great week in the collision repair industry! This week we look at a new safety issue, the Skydrive flying car and how Caliber Collision plans to grow to 1,500 shops by 2020.

- Be careful out there, folks. This week brings reports of two different fires at Canadian shops. Earlier in the week Toronto fire crews were called to a shop in the Richmond Hill area. An explosion sent one worker to hospital with “severe burns.” Police advised residents in the area to close windows and doors as a huge smoke plume drifted over the neighborhood. On Wednesday a fire struck an autobody shop in Abbotsford, British Columbia. No injuries were reported. The fire occurred around 1 p.m. at Overseas Auto Body.

- A new safety issue concerning cars began to emerge this week. A CBS News investigation has found that more than 100 people—mostly children—have been hurt when front seats break and fall backwards in accidents. Front seats can easily break in an accident. If it falls backwards it fall on children in the backseat and injuries or event death can occur if the incident occurs at a high enough speed. According to the CBS report the problem would only take a few dollars to fix. Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives are now “demanding answers” about the likelihood of front seats breaking and falling backward in crashes.

- Finally! Japanese engineers say they'll have a flying car ready for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Called Skydrive, the vehicle has three wheels and four rotors. It can take off and land vertically without the need for a runway.

- The IBIS convention took place this last weekend. For complete updates, please see “Changing future landscapes at IBIS 2016” and “Advanced technology and the need for training under discussion at IBIS 2016.” One of the featured speakers was David Smith from Caliber Collision, who said the chain will grow from 400 shops to 1,500 globally by 2020. There’s even a Canadian connection here, as Caliber's consolidation play is being financed in part by the Ontario Teachers Pensions Plan. The company is already one of the largest consolidators in the US, but these are still incredibly ambitious plans. According to Smith the company will generate more than “$6 billion in revenue by 2020.”

- The Takata airbag recall is moving into a new phase. According to a report in the business press the troubled Japanese auto parts maker has approached esteemed French investment bank Lazard's to begin bankruptcy proceedings. This is not a surprise considering the remarkable size of the recall now underway.

- If you are going to take the client's car for a joy ride, here's a tip: Don't leave the dash cam on. A slightly better tip is not to do it at all. One of the staff at R&S Auto Body Shop in St. Petersburg, Florida, has been accused of doing exactly that with a client’s SUV. You can check out the footage in this report by Tampa Bay TV station WTFS.

- There are definitely privacy concerns surrounding connected cars, and a report in Automotive News seems to justify those concerns. According to the report the FBI invited a bunch of auto executives to its headquarters. The Feds talked to the executives about connected cars and how data protection on those cars was going to work. According to the report, it was only after the event that one of the executives involved realized what was going on: that the US federal cops are beginning to think about how they are going to collect data from connected cars. The meeting at Quantico took place just a few days after it was disclosed that Apple would not help the FBI crack an iPhone seized in a criminal case.

- An autobody shop in North Carolina offered up some tips for choosing a vehicle colour in an article on the local TV station's website. This is a smart bit of local marketing that owners might consider for their area. You can check out how they did it at this link.

- A media report this week suggests that the Netherlands will ban the sale of gasoline-based cars by 2025. The countries parliament passed a law stating that after that date only electric vehicles (EVs), or so-called “zero-emission” cars will be allowed for sale.

- The term “zero-emission” car is an extremely misleading term. It's a bit of a marketing ploy. The energy that makes EVs move, of course, comes from hydrocarbon energy sources in the vast majority of areas. Electric vehicles don't make energy. They only store it in their battery. The energy to charge those batteries has to come from somewhere, and it’s usually from some form of fossil fuels. Plus, a lot of energy is used to mine, smelt, produce and transport the metals used in the construction of the car, and the lacquers, finishes and plastics on the car are usually derived from petrochemicals. Long story short, EVs create all kinds of hydrocarbon emissions when you look at the total life cycle. It was interesting to see that Singapore recently assessed the buyer of a Tesla with an emissions surcharge of $11,000, the argument being that its “upstream” emissions were quite hefty.

 

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