By Jeff Sanford
Toronto, Ontario -- October 5, 2017 -- In this week's edition of Friday Fun, a brazen theft from an Edmonton autobody shop, an archeological dig at a Windsor repair shop, Ford’s big strategy presentation and much, much more!
An autobody shop in Edmonton this past week suffered the theft of a Lexus sports car. According to a report on the CBC, the thief drove the stolen car out of the shop, smashing through the bay doors during business hours. According to the story, “A brazen thief who stole a Lexus sports car by driving it through the overhead doors of an autobody shop in south Edmonton Thursday morning continues to elude police … staff were already working in the garage when the suspect got inside the building and behind the wheel of a bright red Lexus which was driven through the closed door …”
The CBC report notes the car was spotted by police driving through the Old Strathcona neighbourhood, but managed to elude pursuers.
“Officers decided not to pursue the suspect vehicle any further, out of a concern for public safety,” according to the CBC.
- The Windsor Star ran a story this week about the owner of Nick's Auto Clinic in the west end of the city. His repair shop is currently “like a fortress” surrounded as it is by fencing that has been erected to carry out an archeological dig that is part of a local road project. The west end of Windsor is a historical region. US soldiers crossed from Detroit and battled the British there. The region was one of the first settled west of Quebec and First Nations people have been living there for thousands of years. According to the story, the dig (right outside of the repair shop) has uncovered artifacts that are 2,000 years old.
Construction on a new traffic roundabout was recently halted once an initial dig uncovered some items of interest to archeologists. According to the story, “Nick's Auto Clinic has been surrounded by fencing since construction began June 22 at the converging intersections of Sandwich, University Avenue and Riverside Drive … the original completion date of September 1 came and went and so too did the amended finish date of September 28. The roundabout has become ground zero for a hunt for relics of Windsor's historic past.”
The story notes that, “... work initially stopped the same day it began in June when crews uncovered 100-year-old trolley tracks underneath the street level … Then a city-contracted archeologist discovered several much older artifacts.”
The owner of the shop, Nick Papadatos, has gotten a kick out of the dig. According to the story, he has had the opportunity to hold, “... a 2,000-year-old piece of pottery in his hand one day.” He’s not too worried about business at the shop. He is supportive of the dig and is quoted as saying, "That certainly justifies their existence here. The historical significance of this area is supreme. They continue to find things so they're not going to stop until this whole entire area reveals everything." The story goes on to say, “Ironically, business at the garage has been booming despite the hassles accessing it. ‘I've had a great summer,’ said Papadatos, who has been at that location for the past 30 years. ‘September has been amazing. It's our best September in history. Our clientele, they will go way out of their way to get their needs taken care of.'"
- Financial news publisher Bloomberg ran a story this week about GST AutoLeather, which makes leather and components for all the major OEMs. The company has had to declare bankruptcy. The reason according to the story has everything to do with the rise of ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft. As more people use their cars like taxis, the demand for leather as a covering is plummeting. According to the story, “... ride-hail customers are, quite simply, disgusting. Just like big car rental companies and taxi drivers, Uber and Lyft drivers must deal with cars that get dirty much faster as customers get sick or wipe their burger-greased fingers on the upholstery.”
- Manitoba drivers may soon be paying more for car insurance. According to a report by CTV, the Public Utilities Board is contemplating a raise in auto insurance rates. A recent hearing concerning MPI's 2018 general rate application saw the organization request an increase of 2.7 percent. According to the report, “MPI says if approved, it would cost the average driver an extra $29 dollars a year.”
MPI is also looking at charging bad drivers more for insurance. According to the story, “Good drivers with merits on their records get a discount from MPI. Poor drivers with demerits pay more. And MPI is looking to increase that amount even further.”
- Ford held an event Tuesday in which the car maker announced a major shift in overall strategy. According to a report from Reuters, “Ford Motor Co. plans to eliminate vehicles, trim billions in operating costs – and invest money taken from development of passenger cars and internal combustion engines and put that into developing trucks, SUVs and electric vehicles …”
The details of the plan include a push to, “... reduce materials costs by $10 billion, and engineering costs by $4 billion over the next five years. [The company] will reduce capital expenditures on gas and diesel engines by one-third, and redeploy that money into electrification … And just like former CEO Alan Mulally did in the mid-2000s, Hackett and his team plan to reduce the number of orderable combinations customers can get for their vehicles. The company plans to move from nearly 35,000 combinations on the current Fusion sedan to just 96 combinations on the next generation. The company is also aiming to reduce new vehicle development time by 20 percent in the next five years.”
The company also said that by 2019 it will equip all US models with built-in modems, “... and install mobile internet connections in 90 percent of global vehicles by 2020.”
According to a report by CNBC, Ford is playing catch-up on this account. “Rival General Motors Co has been installing built-in mobile broadband connections in its US vehicles since 2015 and now has about 7 million 4G LTE connected vehicles on the road today globally,” according to the report. As well, “By 2030, Ford expects about a third of vehicles to be battery electric, a third hybrids and a third internal combustion.” GM also announced this week it plans to launch 20 new all-electric vehicles by 2023.
- Are the days of the internal combustion engine done? California officials are mulling whether a ban on sales of polluting autos is needed to achieve long-term targets for cleaner air, according to a report by Bloomberg: “Governor Jerry Brown has expressed an interest in barring the sale of vehicles powered by internal-combustion engines, Mary Nichols, Chairman of the California Air Resources Board, said in an interview Friday at Bloomberg headquarters in New York. China, France and the UK have all recently mused publicly about the need to shift away from gasoline-powered cars.