By Jeff Sanford
Toronto, Ontario -- June 8, 2017 -- In this week’s edition of Friday Fun, we look at Saskatchewan's crazy weather, the rise of magnesium in auto bodies, the coming introduction of a Chinese car unfortunately named the “Trumpchi” to the US market and much, much more!
- Saskatchewan is experiencing some seriously extreme weather this month. A report in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix notes that a recent hail storm resulted in some 2,200 vehicle claims in Saskatoon. According to the article, Saskatchewan Government Insurance received the flood of claims after a “brief but intense” hail storm in the city last week. The Friday storm only lasted for “minutes,” but according to the report, on Monday, “staff at some Saskatoon auto body shops said they've been busier than normal due to the storm.” Samantha Henderson at Parr Autobody was quoted in the article. She estimated the shop's “workload was five times higher than normal,” as people came in to get dents worked out of their vehicles. "It's feeling a little bit chaotic here," she was quoted as saying.
Sheila Daum, an employee in the collision repair centre at Saskatoon Motor Products, was also quoted as saying the hail storm had driven up business, “six-fold.” The hail has since been replaced by a heatwave. According to Environment Canada, Saskatchewan was the hottest place in the country last week with record-breaking temperatures across the province. On Thursday Environment Canada had to issue heat warnings for various regions as 11 daily records for high temperatures were broken Thursday. The temperature in Moose Jaw hit 34.6 C that afternoon.
- The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are suggesting that “speeding and aggressive driving are becoming a major problem on highways across the province.” According to a report on CityNews, “... so far this year, police said 27 people have been killed on provincial highways due to speed and aggressive driving, compared to 15 this time last year – an 80 percent increase.”
Police are concerned because the increase in deaths has occurred even before the warmer summer weather arrives, which, “... usually brings more cars and motorcycles on the road as well as higher speeds,” according to a report in the Toronto Star. “Speeding motorists were also a big issue for the OPP leading into and during the Victoria Day long weekend, which coincided with Canada Road Safety Week that ran from May 16 to May 22 ... During the week, police laid around 9,400 speeding charges, 165 of which were street racing charges,” according to the report.
- A report from WCVB in Pittsburgh tells the tale of a woman who surrendered to police on charges of “stealing her own car” last Wednesday night. The article notes that, “Mary Dulya brought her 1990 Chevy Lumina to Lifetime Auto Center, for a second time, in March. After paying $500, the car wasn't finished until two months later, when the manager, Brad Buamhardt, called her Friday to tell her the bill was more than $1,000.” Dulya claims that Lifetime Auto never asked her for approval before doing the work and never gave her a price estimate.
According to the report, “When she showed up Friday, the shop was closed. Dulya wanted to see if her car worked, so she took her second key and started it up. She said it was still stalling out ... She decided to take the car home with her, stalling out off and on, all the way ...” According to another quote from Duyla her thinking was as follows: "I figured, I'm taking the car home and I'll call him Tuesday and tell him the car is running like crap.” According to the report, “She didn't have the chance to call the manager on Tuesday, and she found out there was already a warrant for her arrest.” Dulya officially faces a charge called “theft of services.”
- A story in the Globe and Mail this week looks at the trend toward smaller dealerships that are popping up in densely populated urban centres. As cities across Canada swell with an influx of millennials looking to live in downtown cores rather than in the suburbs, dealerships are, apparently, adapting to the shift and changing their setups. According to the story, in some cases dealerships are trading “showrooms for virtual screens.” Experts quoted in the story say the “high-rise dealership is a reality in locations with high property costs and limited space, although many question the move by some car makers to abandon bricks and mortar in favour of the virtual, saying it goes against consumer behaviour.” According to the story, “The most popular solution is the vertical dealership that mirrors a sleek downtown office or condo building. Already a staple in other urban centres around the world, Canada is simply playing catch-up.”
- Will Albertans take to usage based insurance? We're about to find out. Intact Insurance has just launched its “my Driving Discount” program, “which uses driving data collected by a mobile app to determine a personalized discount for customers based on their driving habits,” in the province. The my Driving Discount program was launched in Ontario in 2013 and is now offered in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec.
- Caliber Collision, the US-based collision repair chain backed by the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan has just opened its 500th location. According to a story on BodyShop Business, “The milestone came with the opening of Caliber's newest facility in Fort Worth, Texas ... Caliber Collision's 500 centers are located across 17 states and the District of Columbia.”
- Will magnesium be the next new metal in car manufacturing? A story on Just Auto asks as much. According to the story, “While magnesium may not be as popular for lightweighting as steel alternatives like composites, its application is gradually spreading from luxury marques to mass-produced models (of cars)” according to the report. A source quoted in the story said, “One key material to keep the weight reduction process ongoing is magnesium. It is the lightest of all structural materials to help improve fuel economy while maintaining structural integrity.”
- Chinese carmaker Guangzhou Automobile Group plans to begin selling cars in the US soon. One issue the company will have to clear up first: One of the company’s models is called a “Trumpchi.” An executive with the company is quoted as saying that the name is accidental. "We called it Trumpchi in 2010," the President of the company recently said in a CNBC interview. "We never imagined that seven years later the name would sound so similar to the name of President [Donald] Trump." According to a report, “In China, Trumpchi (pronounced 'Trump-chee') is an English take off the word 'Chuanqi'” which can be translated as "delivering goodness."