By Jeff Sanford
Toronto, Ontario -- April 26, 2018 -- In today's Friday Fun: A Tesla inspired wedding, food trucks taking lanes, a repair shop for the less fortunate and much, much more!
A UK police force recently picked up a clown for driving with no insurance, literally. The Cambridgeshire Constabulary recently tweeted: "Children's entertainer on way to a party unfortunately has been clowning about with his car insurance on the A14." Six points and a £300 fine.
This past week a Tesla Model X in Florida crashed through, “two separate walls to end up inside a gym. Fortunately, no one was injured, but now the driver of the Model X claims that the electric vehicle accelerated on its own.” According to the local ABC station the vehicle crashed through an empty storefront before ending up halfway into the gym. The SUV narrowly missed a gym member, though no one was injured. There are some good pictures here: https://bit.ly/2HpTdu9
In other Tesla news, new Model 3s, recently off the company’s troubled production line, have been compared to a “KIA in the ‘90s,” because of how bad the fit is on some of the components and parts. Last week a report in a technology magazine from MIT also claimed that the Model 3 factory has a very high injury rate. Part of the reason is that Musk doesn’t like back-up beeps on vehicles or yellow strips, and so basic safety guards have been eliminated from the factory for purely aesthetic reasons.
Even so, people still seem to love Elon. A news report in the auto trade press notes a couple from Washington, D.C. recently got married in a, “Tesla-themed wedding, complete with a Starman-inspired cake and a Model X bridal car.” Alexi Hoeft and Alexander Hart are said to have decided on the Musk-y theme as a way of indulging the bride’s, “passion for Elon Musk’s ventures.” In a statement provided to an online celebrity news portal, the San Francisco Gate, Hoeft claims she really wanted to incorporate Tesla in her wedding. They considered a showroom, but that didn’t pan out, so she and Hart worked a bit of SpaceX and Tesla into a wedding that apparently went ahead in a conventional hall. The bridal party was transported to the venue by a Tesla Model X owned by the father of the bride. The pair are said to be waiting for their Model 3. According to the story, “both the bride and the groom’s vows actually included references to Tesla. According to Hart, Hoeft’s dedication to clean transportation and renewable energy initiatives is something that he just had to include in his vows.”
Promotional material distributed by a Philadelphia-area collision repair shop mentions a bit of business the shop does as a side hustle – food truck conversions. According to a press release the shop can do auto body repairs, full restoration work, custom paint jobs and detailing. But the shop also does, “food truck kitchen installation.” Over the past couple years as the foodie trend has taken off, there has been a large expansion in the number of food trucks operating in major cities. It seems every type of food can be had now, served up from converted trucks that seem to be more numerous than ever. And it’s not just fries and soft serve ice cream these days. The food on offer is everything from pork bone soup to poke bowls and sushi burritos – the foodie craze collided with the old school food truck trend. The kind of metal fabricating work that needs to be done to convert a truck requires the skills and tools found in an auto body repair shop and could make a great side hustle for a shop that can do it.
There seems to be another solid business opportunity forming up in western Canada, where, according to a news report from Reuters, “desperate” Canadian oil producers are turning to transport trucks to ship crude from more distant fields. The story notes that total production of crude oil has risen 8 percent in the province in the last year. But plans for new export pipelines have run into serious opposition from environmentalists, First Nations and other provinces. So more oil companies are making use of trucks to haul crude from remote oil fields. This is a very expensive way to move crude. A truck can only carry 200 barrels of oil, compared with 60,000 barrels in a train car, or 600,000 per day in a large pipeline. So moving crude by truck is ten times more expensive than other methods. Even so, according to the story, “Exports by road rose from just over 17,000 barrels per month in 2015 to more than 51,000 in 2017, according to data Statistics Canada provided to Reuters. In the first two months of 2018, road exports surged to an average of 180,000 a month.” There is said to be a severe driver shortage in Western Canada as a result. But having huge fleets of heavy trucks driving out to remote areas along bad roads will generate a strong, steady bunch of business for the large shops that do heavy truck collision repair in the western provinces.
A heart warming story from the aftermarket sector comes from a newspaper in Minnesota. A news feature tells the story of a repair shop called The Lift Garage, a nonprofit shop that serves low-income people in Minneapolis. The founder of The Lift had been volunteering at a homeless shelter in that city. According to the story, “She found that many of the men she worked with struggled to find a dependable means of transportation. She was surprised to find few organizations addressing affordable car repair in Minnesota’s urban areas. Within a few months, she was enrolled in the auto technology program at Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis.” She was the only woman in the class. She was also a nontraditional student in that she had a background in social work. According to the story, “Now, [the founder] uses her degree to help her customers understand cars more and make better financial decisions regarding their vehicles. The Lift charges $15 per hour for labour and sells parts at cost, significantly reducing the amount that clients pay for repairs. A few months after Heying opened for business, appointments filled the calendar three months out – and it’s been that way ever since.” The shop began with one bay that was open on Saturday. Now, “the Lift operates four bays and is open five days a week.”
A Calgary auto dealership is helping to, “drive change in a traditionally male-dominated industry.” According to a newspaper story that ran in the city this past week Precision Hyundai has been hiring female employees in every area of its operations – not just at reception. The company has what they think is the only female auto service technician at a dealership in Calgary (there are several female auto technicians in the city). According to the story, “Veronique Kamke comes from a family of mechanics and has been around vehicles her entire life. She considers herself one of the guys, but with a female touch. ‘Sometimes you feel you’re being ripped off, which is what I hear from a lot of females,’ she said. ‘I do like to explain what I’m selling and what for.’”