Thursday, 23 September 2010 16:11

Hyundai AL Plant Gains Elantra Production

The 2011 Hyundai Elantra will join its larger sibling, the Sonata, in production at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) starting in late fall 2010. This change, along with the recent move of the Santa Fe to a production facility in Georgia, will further increase Hyundai’s overall U.S. production capacity, which was already producing over half of total U.S. sales volume.

“Hyundai’s philosophy is to build our vehicles where we sell them, and with the addition of the Elantra to our U.S. production mix we now manufacture our three most popular models right here in the U.S.,” said John Krafcik, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor America.

The all-new 2011 Elantra sedan will make its public debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show this November, while sales are scheduled to begin early next year.

Sonata is the best-selling vehicle in Hyundai’s U.S. lineup, with sales of 128,484 though the end of August, a 50% increase over the same period last year. Elantra sales through the same period of 90,960 are up 21% over the same period last year.

HMMA has consistently ranked as one of the highest quality plants in Hyundai’s worldwide operations and is an outstanding example of Hyundai’s focused commitment to quality.

This year Sonata was again ranked in the top-three in quality by the J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study in the competitive mid-size sedan category. The HMMA-built Sonata was also recently awarded Auto Pacific’s first-ever President’s Award in recognition of its record-setting consumer performance in 48 categories ranging from the basics of comfort and convenience, to performance and environmental friendliness.

More than 1,200,000 vehicles have rolled off the HMMA assembly line since production began on May 20, 2005.

“We’re thrilled to be adding another pillar of the Hyundai lineup to our production mix here at HMMA,” said Ashley Frye, director of production, HMMA. “We’ve been extremely proud to build both Sonata and Santa Fe on our assembly line, both of which have been hugely successful models for Hyundai in the U.S. and we hope to carry that momentum with us as we embark on the new 2011 Elantra.”

Thursday, 23 September 2010 16:08

GDOT Confronts Highway Sales Tax ‘Rumors’

State Department of Transportation Policy and Projects Special Assistant Stephanie Carter September 7 in Gainesville advised Kiwanis Club members not to reject the new regional sales tax for transportation until they understand how it works and what it does.

The sales tax referendum goes before the voters in 2012, not this November, and a regional road project list won’t come out until next year. The 10 year, one cent sales tax goes into effect in 2013.

“Until you actually see the project list and what the one penny is going to fund, I think it’s a little short sighted to come out against the penny,” Carter said.

Last week Hall Farm Bureau members voted against the measure, fearing it could cut funding for Hall County projects.

Carter, who reports directly to Transportation Commissioner Vance Smith, said the new Transportation Investment Act would not stop the flow of funding.

“The money that is raised in this region stays in the region,” she said. “I think a lot of folks are afraid that the money raised here will build new interchanges in Atlanta and that’s not the case.”

Gainesville and Hall County are in the Georgia Mountains Region and Carter said monies raised in the region would go back into its infrastructure. Carter added that DOT would continue to spend money for transportation in Gainesville and Hall County.

Carter said 75 percent of the money is going to be spent on regional projects while 25 percent would go back to the region’s county commissioners and mayors.

On November’s General Election ballot this year there is a voter referendum that stretches funding for state transportation projects.

According to Carter Referendum (3) allows GDOT multi-year contracts on highway projects.

“So if a project is going to cost $100-million but it’s going to take three years to build they could fund it in Year One with $30-million, Year Two with $30-million and Year Three with $40-million,” Carter said. “Right now if we have to put aside that entire $100-million that money is tied up in that project even though it takes three years.If we could move to multi-year contracts it would allow us to get more projects out the door in this fiscal year and in the next and the next.”

Thursday, 23 September 2010 16:07

David Maus Chevrolet Launches New Website

David Maus Chevrolet in Florida, currently under construction, is proud to announce the launch of its new website

The new website offers many great features by providing users with up-to-date information on the construction of the facility, interviews with the construction crew on the project, videos on events throughout the construction period and more.

David Maus Chevrolet will be the fifth dealership in the Central Florida area as a part of the Van Tuyl / David Maus Automotive Group. The construction company, RL Haines, is heading the project which will provide over 1,500 construction related jobs. The new Service Department will showcase 37 service bays with three heavy truck lifts and three detail bays. The entire line of Chevrolet vehicles will be available for sale with one of the largest inventories in Orlando.

For more information on the facility or to apply for a position at David Maus Chevrolet please contact the 407-302-8800 or visit

David Maus Toyota Scion is open for sales and service with a location at 1160 Rinehart Road in Sanford, FL.

General Motors plans to recall about 400 idled union workers to its plant at Spring Hill to build four-cylinder engines for its mid-size crossover vehicles, according to reports made by the Associated Press on September 14.

A person briefed about the new jobs provided the employee count to The Associated Press and said the recall is due to increased demand for the four-cylinder engines. The person did not want to be identified because the plan has not been made public.

In addition, GM will announce that it is investing millions in the Spring Hill engine plant to build the next generation of the company's Ecotec four-cylinder engine, the person said. The factory already builds three four-cylinder engines.

GM spokeswoman Sherrie Childers Arb declined comment September 14 about the jobs but said a media advisory about a September 17 announcement at the plant in Tennessee was forthcoming.

The automaker laid off about 2,000 workers at Spring Hill last year and about 800 of those workers have relocated to GM plants in other states.

In the U.S., the engines built at the Spring Hill plant go into the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain midsize crossover vehicles, the Buick LaCrosse luxury sedan and the Buick Regal midsize sedan, all of which are selling well.

UAW Vice President Joe Ashton is scheduled to be in Spring Hill on September 17 to help make the announcement, the source said.

The prospect of GM adding jobs is also welcome news in Maury County, which had a 14.5 percent unemployment rate in July.

Debbie Hargis is the office manager at Bagsby Tractor and Truck Service in Spring Hill, which worked on trucks for a company that hauled vehicles for the GM plant.

She said the jobs are "going to help Spring Hill a great deal. When people get hired on, it creates more of everything for the area." She said "every business in this area has felt the effect" of the layoffs.

The Detroit Free Press first reported GM's decision to expand its engine building at the Spring Hill plant.

GM laid off workers last year when it moved production of its Chevrolet Traverse after a million dollar overhaul of the Spring Hill plant, where GM 20 years earlier started building the Saturn brand.

Mercedes-Benz USA September 8 held a grand-opening ceremony for a new cutting-edge facility in Jacksonville, Florida. Strategically located less than three miles from the Jacksonville airport, the new Southern Region facility centralizes several business units into one complex for more efficient dealer support and correspondingly higher levels of customer satisfaction.

The recently constructed building totaling a combined 415,000 sq. ft., is a leased facility built to accommodate MBUSA's needs. It is located off Interstate 95 at 13470 International Parkway. MBUSA took official occupancy in July with four business units operating from the site including: Sales Operations Southern Regional Office; Parts Distribution Center (PDC); Quality Evaluation Center (QEC); and Learning & Performance Center (LPC). Approximately 160 employees work at the new facility, which incorporates innovative environmental systems and design using the same criteria as LEED certified buildings within each of the four business areas.

"This new facility is an integral part of our commitment to more efficiently and effectively support our dealers so that they in turn can provide the unparalleled ownership experience that our buyers expect from Mercedes-Benz," said Ernst Lieb, president and CEO of MBUSA, who presided over the ceremony. "This facility represents our best thinking in terms of how Mercedes-Benz looks and functions."

The new complex incorporates the company's unique Autohaus design which has been adopted by Mercedes-Benz dealerships across the country. The modern aesthetic concept skillfully incorporates signature design elements in a way that is designed to promote interaction and create an appealing functional environment...

The new Jacksonville facility houses the following business operations: -- SALES OPERATIONS SOUTHERN REGION OFFICE -- The Southern Region MBUSA office supports 102 MBUSA dealerships with sales and fixed operations across 12 states including Florida, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Texas as well as Puerto Rico. MBUSA has three other regional offices in the U.S.: Parsippany, NJ, Rosemont, IL and Costa Mesa, CA. -- PARTS DISTRIBUTION CENTER -- A new addition to MBUSA's operation in Jacksonville, the Parts Distribution Center (PDC) supports approximately 70 MBUSA dealers in the Southeast with parts supply. The PDC will house about 15 percent of MBUSA overall parts inventory, shipping over 1.3 million lines annually. The company has four other Parts Distribution Centers in U.S.: Carol Stream, IL, Fontana, CA, Fort Worth, TX and Robbinsville, NJ. -- QUALITY EVALUATION CENTER -- With more than 70 personnel from various engineering and logistics disciplines representing a diverse collection of work experience and backgrounds, the Quality Evaluation Center in Jacksonville is one of only two operational units of its kind outside of Germany. The QEC team includes Daimler Quality personnel, placing engineers closer to the market and to the dealers served by MBUSA. This market proximity brings greater knowledge of market-specific issues directly into the quality management process through faster parts evaluation and feedback to Daimler development. Local parts analysis also helps to improve diagnostic tools and technical information while the resulting rapid feedback to dealers increases the diagnostic skills necessary for improved "Fixed First Visit" performance - a key customer satisfaction component. -- LEARNING & PERFORMANCE CENTER -- The Learning & Performance Center is a leading edge training facility for dealership and MBUSA personnel. MBUSA facilitates over 120 classes per year in the Jacksonville Learning & Performance Center, with a total of about a thousand participants from across the Southeastern United States. Classrooms, workshops, a computer lab, a virtual classroom webcast area, a student lounge, offices and a cafeteria are designed in an intelligent and integrated fashion all for the learners' benefit while at the same time providing increased operational effectiveness and efficiencies. MBUSA operates five Learning & Performance Centers in the U.S.: Houston, TX, Itasca, IL, Jacksonville, FL, Montvale, NJ, and Rancho Cucamonga, CA.

"I am extremely pleased that Mercedes-Benz chose Jacksonville for its Southern region headquarters," said Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton. "This is a testament to the favorable business climate we enjoy in our city and our talented workforce. I am proud to have Mercedes-Benz as a member of our business community."

About Mercedes-Benz USA
Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA), headquartered in Montvale, New Jersey, is responsible for the distribution, marketing and customer service for all Mercedes-Benz and Maybach products in the United States. MBUSA offers drivers the most diverse line-up in the luxury segment with 12 model lines ranging from the sporty C-Class to the flagship S-Class sedans and CL coupes and the SLS AMG supercar.

MBUSA is also responsible for the distribution, marketing and customer service of Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Vans in the US. More information on MBUSA and its products can be found at and

Hyundai Motor America said August 31 it will shift manufacturing of its Santa Fe SUV beginning this fall from its plant in Alabama to one in West Point, Georgia run by Kia Motor Manufacturing, a move aimed at boosting production of Hyundai's popular Sonata sedan according to reports made by the Associated Press.

A St. Petersburg, FL, jury and judge sentenced Brandon Sutton to life in prison for murdering Vinson Phillips, a well known St. Petersburg body shop owner in 2007.

click to read story

The Georgia Collision Industry Association will send letters out this month to all Georgia Claims Managers, the GA Insurance Commissioner and the GA Attorney General detailing the results of the GCIA labor rates surveys given in July. The GCIA hopes to inform these parties about their analysis of the prevailing competitive price. More information can be found at The full text of the letter is as follows;

August 9th, 2010
To: Georgia Insurance Company Claims Managers
From: The Georgia Collision Industry Association
RE: Collision Labor/Materials Rates in Atlanta Metro Area

The Georgia Collision Industry Association (GCIA) recently completed their 4th Annual Labor & Materials Rate Survey for Metro Atlanta and we are writing to inform you of the results of the research.

The Survey was conducted by CSi Complete to ensure unbiased data collection.

CSi Complete is a provider of customer satisfaction indexing to collision repair, claims and other services industries and you can learn more information about the company by visiting their website at

Our goal in conducting this annual survey and sharing the results is twofold:

1. To utilize an impartial company to identify and communicate statistically valid figures representing the average labor rate for repair services offered in the Atlanta Metro area, and

2. To communicate the results of the research to both collision repair facilities, insurance carriers and the appropriate involved in serving the consumer in the repair and claims handling process.

The 2010 survey indicates a 3.15% average increase over 2009 rates, bringing labor rates to $42.00 and Materials to $28.00.

The GCIA encourages all Claims Managers and insurance company executives to thoroughly review the 2010 GCIA Labor Rate Survey. We urge you and your company to join the GCIA in our efforts to alleviate the variances between the actual prevailing rates (as shown in our survey) versus the rates some carriers are currently compensating collision repair shops for materials and labor in Metro Atlanta.

The GCIA has conducted this survey for four (4) consecutive years. No other industry association in the U.S. has collected this amount of accurate data on collision materials and labor rates.

This year, nearly 300 shops participated, and the results clearly demonstrate the actual prevailing rate in the Atlanta marketplace.

It is our intention that the information offered be used to ensure your company is fulfilling its obligation to the policyholder, be reimbursing for the actual prevailing rates in Metro Atlanta.

If you have any questions about the GCIA, or the results of this survey, I would encourage you to contact our Executive Director, Howard Batchelor, at

Board of Directors
Georgia Collision Industry Association
Georgia Collision Industry Association –
595 Commerce Park Dr Marietta, Georgia  30060  FAX: (770)590-3881 VOICE: (770)770-367-9816.

ECO-Friendly Auto Center in Oakland Park, FL, received Florida State Green Certification through Certified Green Partners (CGP) on August 5. ECO-Friendly received this certification thanks to processes and techniques they use daily in their shop.

To view a PDF of this article please CLICK HERE.

Florida city officials as well as representatives from suppliers attended ECO-Friendly’s Certification Ceremony at the shop on August 5.

“From day one I had being green in mind,” said Sully Dawson, owner of ECO-Friendly Auto Center.

The auto center had to be audited by Certified Green Partners before receiving this certification. The entire shop and all of its processes were looked into by an auditor from CGP to make sure the shop held up CGP’s standards for certification.

ECO-Friendly recycles just about everything possible around the shop from scrap metals to batteries to office papers.

In response to numerous inquiries regarding the status of the Slander and Tortious Interference case Gunder’s Auto Center has against State Farm; we have filed our appellate brief and State Farm has filed their rebuttal and we are currently awaiting the courts ruling relative to a request for Summary Judgment presented in the matter. We anticipate success in this regard and to move forward to achieving the ultimate goal of “having our day in court."

This entire matter hinges on whether any insurer, including State Farm, can merely target a repairer and have the right to say anything they wish with the intent to harm the repairer and disparage their good name in an effort to interfere with the relationship between the repairer and their customer; so long as the insurer does not breach the legal limit referred to as “Expressed Malice”. It is my understanding that according to State Farm, this means they can say anything they wish about me and my company up to the extent that one is a “murderer” or “rapist” etc.!