By Jeff Sanford
Toronto, Ontario -- April 20, 2017 -- This week we look at two Lamborghinis that were destroyed in wildly different ways, why Ontarians pay more than anyone else car insurance, Elon Musk’s plans for the future of Tesla and much, much more!
- A Lamborghini was completely destroyed after crashing into the guardrail on the eastbound Lake Shore Blvd just before the Don Valley Parkway around 7 p.m. Friday night, according to a report on CityNews. Police say everyone managed to get out of the car.
- Speaking of destroyed Lambos, the ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum in Aarhus, Denmark, invited visitors to deface a Lamborghini as part of an art show. Okay, it might be exaggerating to say it was “destroyed,” but the results aren’t pretty.
“The display, entitled ‘Low Key’, went up last September. Visitors to the museum were encouraged to scratch whatever came to mind into the black paint. The car quickly filled up with names, haphazard lines and what I can only assume are Danish swear words. One joker even carved ‘Skoda’ on to the side. The Lambo badging was almost completely demolished and even the windows didn’t escape art-lovers’ wrath ... The museum allowed visitors to deface the Gallardo for three weeks before putting a stop to the mayhem … Now that the art piece is ‘complete’ it will continue to be displayed until September.”
- We’ve got another story of a motorist skipping the middleman and crashing directly into a bodyshop. In Maplewood, Minnesota, a car drove over a retaining wall and plunged into the shop’s parking lot, according to a news report. Yucking it up on social media, the Maplewood Police Department said, "Well, that's one way to save on a tow! We can joke because amazingly the driver walked away unharmed."
- Last week we reported on the case of a man in Quebec driving with a wooden log used for a suspension "repair." This week it's a guy in Newfoundland holding his car together with rope: "Officers say they stopped the car in St. John's at about 4:30 p.m. Sunday after noticing it was unregistered ... when they took a closer look, officers discovered a rear control arm ... was tied to the frame with a piece of rope." Police seized the vehicle, deeming it a "road safety concern," because apparently the police in Newfoundland have a magnificent talent for understatement.
- Firefighters in London, Ontario were called to a blaze at Quality Auto Body & Collision. There were no injuries reported. The fire has been extinguished but the cause remains under investigation.
- A major report on the Ontario auto insurance industry—Fair Benefits Fairly Delivered: A Review of the Auto Insurance System in Ontario—finds that while “Ontario's roads are among the safest in North America, Ontario drivers pay the highest premiums in the country.” Ontario drivers pay an average premium of $1,458 per vehicle, for a total of $10 billion a year. Ontario's injury rate (62.1 per 10,000 licensed drivers) was the lowest in Canada and the province's fatality rate (0.54 per 10,000 licensed drivers) was the second lowest in all of North America. This fact is not reflected in premiums, however, which are 24 per cent higher than Alberta's ($1,179) and double what drivers in Quebec pay ($724),” according to a story in the Toronto Star. “Ontario’s system is structurally flawed ... despite consistent reductions in automobile accidents, especially serious ones, the cost of claims have consistently risen, thanks to 'one of the least effective insurance systems in Canada.’”
The problems in the system are structural, apparently, rather than excess insurance company profits or inefficiencies in the repair process. It’s actually more to do with fixing the people than fixing the cars: "The main cause is that the system does not promote a timely, conflict-free means of deciding what care is needed and providing it to accident victims,” according to the report. “The system favours cash settlements in lieu of care ... Sprains and strains—the majority of claims—often take more than a year to settle and about one-third of overall benefit costs goes toward competing expert opinions, lawyers' fees and insurer costs to defend claims instead of going to treatment,” according to the report’s author.
- A story in the Toronto Star recently summed up some of the challenges around a policy that sees licenses suspended for relatively small miscues such as a late payment for a speeding ticket. According to the story a long-haul truck driver found out his license was suspended while sitting in his rig “in a weigh-scale station near Niagara Falls.” Another person got a “speeding ticket in Richmond Hill while rushing her feverishly screaming baby to hospital with an ear infection. In all the fuss, she forgot about the ticket. Her license was suspended for non-payment.” There are plenty more stories like this, but the worst case may be that of the Mader family of Toronto. They were “involved in an accident and the officer at the scene told him his license had been suspended because of an unpaid traffic ticket (a prohibited right-hand turn). After the wreck, the Maders notified their insurance company (Meloche Monnex) and were told, because of the suspension, that they were on their own, there would not be insurance coverage for the crash. They had been with the same company for 20 years.” Following 'a huge amount of arguing,' the company agreed to pay their car repairs: $2,000. But the family was still subject to a $1 million suit filed by the other driver. A single traffic ticket probably shouldn’t lead to personal bankruptcy.
- Major changes were made to the country's impaired driving laws this week, “including provisions that will allow for mandatory roadside alcohol screening and new criminal offences for driving while high.” The legislation, “introduced concurrently with the government's cannabis legalization bill, will allow police to demand a driver provide an 'oral fluid sample'—saliva— if they suspect a driver is drug impaired.” A story by the CBC notes that, “government did not specify which drug testing device it would recommend police use for enforcement, but other jurisdictions use the DrugWipe system, which can detect traces of cannabis, opiates, cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamines (MDMA, ecstasy), benzodiazepines and ketamine.”
- A report by the Augusta Chronicle covers off a common complaint in the industry: the problems around finding skilled labour. A survey finds that in the repair industry, “the largest percentage of respondents–45 percent–cited the industry’s labour shortage as their No. 1 concern. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 237,000 jobs in the automotive repair field are expected to open up from 2014 to 2024.”
The story goes on to note that the “pipeline of automotive technicians has shrunk as parents have steered their children toward white-collar occupations.” According to the source, “There is a societal bias against the trades. Part of the problem is we haven’t done a good-enough job of explaining how the opportunities have changed. The parents are the ones we need to convince, not the students.”
This may sound familiar: “Repair shops and car dealerships have long dealt with the labour crunch by poaching technicians from one another and picking up mechanics from shops that close. Between 2005 and 2015, the number of mom-and-pop repair shops decreased by more than 5,700 businesses, and the number of dealerships fell by roughly 4,000 during the same period. Demand for skilled technicians is expected to become more urgent in the coming years as today’s highly computerized, semi-autonomous vehicles evolve into the 'driverless' cars of tomorrow.”
- Plenty of cars and SUVs are still being built in Canada, but the automotive sector faces some major challenges in the days ahead. A recent report notes that, “OEMs are cutting back on production, and even the future of free trade is murky. According to Scotiabank’s “Global Auto Report” released in February, some 2.37 million vehicles were manufactured in Canada last year. While this total is slightly higher than 2015 thanks to increases in truck production, automotive output is on the decline. The numbers don’t lie. In 2016 Canada made 802,100 cars versus 888,600 in 2015. Research firm LMC Automotive offers a dire forecast for the next few years: “Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) will reduce the number of vehicles made in Canada from 577,000 in 2016 to 435,000 in 2020. Ford will drop to 184,000 from 272,000; GM will drop to 318,000 from 519,000; and Toyota will drop to 463,000 from 600,000. Production from Honda is expected to increase marginally to 425,000 in 2020 from 414,000 in 2016.”
- Some parts makers are already looking for alternative markets. A newspaper story notes that, “there are other vehicles beyond cars and SUVs to provide parts for.” One example is the Argo, an amphibious ATV that is made by Ontario Drive & Gear (ODG) in New Hamburg, Ont. Currently the company produces 29 different models. According to the story, The firm uses locally sourced suppliers for some machined components, weldments, and laser cutting ... making parts for ATVs isn’t much of a stretch for anyone familiar with making parts for cars and SUVs.” Defense vehicles “represent another solid sector to consider.” According to the story, “One of the leading companies in this field is General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada (GDLS-Canada), London, Ont. The company specializes in light armoured vehicle platforms “as well as repairs, upgrades, and service.” The company also supports more than “500 Canadian suppliers, across all regions in Canada.”
- Road salt is turning North America's freshwater lakes into saltwater, according to a scientific report covered by Vice. A recent study examining the scale of freshwater lake salinization in North America finds that lakes near roads are at “high risk of becoming too salinized within the next 50 years for either freshwater life or human use. This includes 27 percent of all large lakes in the US. If current trends continue, many freshwater lakes in the US and Canada will be too salty for human use or aquatic life.” We don’t want to come across as overdramatic here, but that sounds … not good.
The question remains, what do we about the ice? As a way of avoiding the potential of a salinized Lake Ontario, Toronto has started using a beet juice mixture instead of traditional rock salt as road de-icer, according to the report.
- Elon Musk has laid out the latest plans for Tesla’s vehicle portfolio via Twitter, according to an article on GM Authority. Get ready for a “Tesla semi-truck reveal later this year, and [a] pickup coming in '18 to 24 months.'"
- The Tesla Model S is one of the safest cars on the road, but the car is even safer in Europe, according to a report in Automotive News. According to the story, Teslas sold in Europe are able to sense when the car is going to hit a pedestrian. The car then, “raises the hood to increase the distance between the aluminum body and hard parts below. This increases the distance over which the aluminum can crumple before it hits something hard. In a nutshell, it aims to reduce the risk of serious injury to a pedestrian.”