Southeastern News

1HomePageMap small se 0816Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and West Virginia

Legislation has been proposed in the Georgia House of Representatives that would create a sales tax on many services of small businesses. The bill, House Bill 385, if passed, would create a new sales tax on the labor costs on services performed by automotive repair facilities.

The Mississippi Senate has passed a bill requiring each motorist to show proof of liability insurance before receiving a car tag, according to reports made by the Clarion-Ledger.

Sen. Billy Hewes, a Republican from Gulfport, says his constituents have complained about being involved in crashes with drivers who aren’t insured.

Hyundai Motor America celebrated its 25th anniversary in the U.S. the weekend of Feb. 19th. The automaker reports that it has sold 6,608,208 models in the U.S. in that time, and more than 4,350,000 units still are on the road today.

Last year, Hyundai recounted that its sales surpassed 538,000 units, making the Korean company the sixth best-selling brand in the country behind only Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford, and Chevrolet.

To handle demand, the company has expanded production capacity to more than 400,000 units—specifically the Sonata, Elantra and Santa Fe that are manufactured in modern assembly plants in Montgomery, Alabama, and in Georgia. Hyundai pointed out that its engines and transmissions are produced in the U.S., too.

U.S. employment now includes more than 4,000 workers, with total employment including suppliers and dealers coming in at more than 45,000. Hyundai has declared that its commitment to the U.S. market includes engineering, design, testing, production, sale and marketing. In all, Hyundai's investments in the U.S. total $1.7 billion.

The Georgia Collision Industry Association (GCIA) has been working with new Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens this month on creating six regional Property and Casualty Advisory Committees and one smaller, statewide version of the committee.

Hudgens first came to the GCIA in the beginning of January asking their help in finding people who would like to be nominated for the committee, said GCIA President Howard Batchelor.

Batchelor then reached out Neva Hollins, Executive Director at ASA of Georgia, to help fill in nominees for more rural regions where the GCIA has low membership numbers.

Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney has officially announced his intention to seek a second term.

Chaney was first elected to office in November 2007 when he beat Democrat Gary Anderson by taking 57 percent of the vote. Chaney succeeded long-time commissioner, George Dale.

The Georgia Collision Industry Association held their first meeting of 2011 on January 27; the main speakers for the night were Data Acquisition Manager Sali McCahill and Repair Advantage Program Director Nancy Fiorino from the vehicle history reporting company CARFAX.

The speakers gave a presentation on how CARFAX gathers the information they have on accidents and repairs on vehicles and their new Repair Advantage Program.

Five needy families, their circumstances exacerbated by a lack of adequate transportation, received showroom-quality used cars during a blustery ceremony outside Victory Church in Lakeland thanks to area body shops last month.

Amid a sea of tears, hugs and hallelujahs, members of the Auto Angels experienced the joy of giving, promising to help more families next year.

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“I’ve never had a feeling like this, and I’m 60 years old. I’ve had chill bumps all morning,” said Ray Gunder, owner of a Lakeland automotive center who was instrumental in bringing about the car giveaway.

Twenty or more area auto dealers, garages and body shops, comprise the Auto Angels program. Gunder said he patterned the group after Recycled Rides, a nationwide awareness campaign that is aligned with the National Auto Body Council. In the past few months, Gunder and his associates acquired five cars in need of varying amounts of TLC. In some cases entire engines were replaced, he said.

A heavy snow storm passed through northern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia January 5 through 7, originating in Arkansas. The snow storm brought heavy snow, blanketing the region in 4 to 10 inches in some areas.

State Rep. Steve Horne, R-81, has introduced House Bill 151, which repeals the Mississippi annual safety inspection of motor vehicles program.

MS H.B. 151 includes additional language on the tinting of windows.

Mississippi has an annual decentralized safety inspection program. Less than half the states in the United States have safety inspection programs despite studies in Pennsylvania and Missouri that have indicated the value of safety inspection programs in reducing accidents, injuries and deaths. The federal government has not shown interest in promoting state safety inspection programs or in evaluating their value in reducing accidents, injuries and deaths.

If the bill becomes law, it will take effect July 11, 2011. The Automotive Service Association (ASA) opposes MS H.B. 151.
ASA encourages independent repairers to go to the ASA legislative website, www.TakingTheHill.com, to review the Mississippi legislation.

The Executive Board of Directors of the Florida Autobody Collision Alliance announced that it has appointed Cathy Mills its first Executive Director. Mills will assume the responsibilities of the position on January 1, 2011.