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OEM NEWS

A WELD TO THE WISE

Toyota announced it is icing the use of heat to straighten body and frame components on OEM repairs, as well as reinforcing pre-existing welding techniques, in a Collision Repair Information Bulletin (CRIB) issued in June. The automaker says that, due to the high-strength sheet steel used for structural body and frame components, heat is not to be used in repair procedures as it can change the crystalline structure of the steel, causing a significant decrease in strength, as well as reduce its corrosion resistance. When it comes to repair versus replace on certain parts, Toyota says body and frame deformations that cannot be returned to their original shape by cold straightening are classified as “kinks” and should be replaced. Deformations that can be repaired with cold straightening are classified as “bends.” Stefano Liessi, a senior consultant at Canadian Collision Specialist and frequent columnist in Collision Repair, spoke about whether this decision on cold straightening and part replacement will affect the overall repair process for technicians. “It could, in the sense that a technician will have to try to complete some cold pulls first and if this fails, we are into replacement,” he said. “This is also a cost factor as no one wants to work for free. The understanding of these outlines and releases is incredibly important to the success of any repair.”

The bulletin also reinforced the requirement for gas inert arc welding/metal inert gas (MIG) techniques to be used on welded frame components. Toyota says the only approved welding technique is a butt joint without backing. Liessi warns that while Toyota says they only mandate the use of MIG welding techniques, the inference should not be made that the use of silicon bronze, which MIG welders can install, is approved by OEM procedure.

CAN’T RIV’ IT DOWN

Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe released a letter to his employees in the wake of news reports leaking plans to lay off up to five percent of Rivian’s employees; the letter comes on the heels of a report from Bloomberg claiming that the OEM is planning to reduce its workforce by up to five percent. However, the report also claims that the layoffs will not affect Rivian manufacturing jobs, but positions in the company in areas that have “grown too quickly.” The letter confirms team “restructuring” decisions on the horizon due to the difficult “economic landscape. “The cuts will focus on non-manufacturing roles, including teams with duplicate functions, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information,” wrote Bloomberg. “The actions could be announced in the coming weeks, the people said.” The report also claims Rivian is facing multiple setbacks, including share prices dropping by 69 percent in the last year, forcing the company to scale back.

A CERTAIN PROPOSAL

Canadian artificial intelligence company Acerta A.I. has inked a deal with Nissan, which will see the OEM use Acera’s defect-scanning technology on the assembly line. Via the new partnership, Acerta will work with the Japan-based Nissan Research Center on the predictive maintenance platform. The customized machine learning models could translate into cost savings for vehicle owners and increased on-road safety. “Our models will also estimate the remaining distance that a vehicle can travel before maintenance is needed,” said Cutulenco, in a press release. The partnership is sponsored by the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN); valued at $1.4 million and set to receive $344,000 in provincial funding.

In a 2019 interview with Collision Repair magazine, CEO Greta Cutulenco explained the importance of Acerta’s services. “I see Acerta supporting the entire automotive product lifecycle, using AI to find insights in that huge volume of production and on-road data. Our models can help engineers and technicians predict when a vehicle or assembly will fail and, more importantly, why,” she said.

MARKET DOMINANCE

A recent fatal collision involving a Tesla vehicle and a motorcyclist has invigorated ongoing investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with Teslas now representing 81 percent of all ADAS-related collisions in the United States. According to Bloomberg, this is the 18th fatal crash in an ongoing NHTSA investigation in ADAS vehicles since 2016. Out of the 47 collisions in the study, 38 were Teslas.

Published data from an earlier, albeit ongoing investigation suggest that Teslas represented 70 percent of all ADAS-related collisions in June 2022, on top of yet another investigation into Tesla vehicles’ propensity to crash into parked emergency vehicles.

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