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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

As 'New' Original Manufacturer Parts Use Declines, Auto Companies Attack Quality Alternatives

Consumers and environment harmed by groundless attack on recycled automotive parts.

As sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, original equipment parts manufacturers, faced with declining sales, will aimlessly attack quality parts alternatives. The latest campaign comes from Hyundai Motor America, a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Company of Korea. In a July 2010 press release, Hyundai proclaims, "Hyundai does not support the use or re-use of components removed or recycled from an existing collision-damaged vehicle." Thus, one can infer from their statement that Hyundai does not support the repair and subsequent use back on the road of any vehicle that has been involved in a prior collision.

Unfortunately, automakers and "new" original equipment manufacturers (OEM) have a long history of erecting barriers to further their substantial hold on the vehicle parts replacement market. From withholding essential Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) information on the parts compatibility of various vehicle makes, models and years to the full court negative press campaign on the integrity of recycled parts, automakers stand as a road block to a more robust auto parts recycling network.

According to the most recent Mitchell Repair Collision Data, OEM parts represented "67.9% of all parts dollars specified by Mitchell-equipped estimators. This is yet another decline from previous quarters and reflects a continuing trend." The steady movement away from new OEM parts has occurred as consumers and the collision repair industry become better educated on the quality part alternatives that are in the marketplace. To put into prospective this trend, the new OEM parts usage for the same report was 74.4% as recently as the second quarter of 2008.
At present, recycled auto parts are competing against a new OEM auto parts industry that command huge marketing and institutional advantages in the collision and mechanical auto repair markets. However, educated consumers embrace "recycled" auto parts usage because of the benefits to the environment along with their substantial consumer savings in reduced repair costs and lower insurance premiums. Not to mention, these quality "green" auto parts meet the performance, safety, fit and durability standards of the new OEM.

Furthermore, Hyundai and countless other automakers tout the quality of their own pre-owned vehicles that contain thousands of used parts. For instance, Hyundai's website markets its own certified pre-owned vehicle program as a "practical choice" and one that "accomplishes the goals of the value-conscious consumer".

Evoking a famous line by comedian George Carlin, "If you can't beat them, arrange to have them beaten." Regrettably, auto manufacturers are "hammering" their own parts and needlessly trashing the very principles industry founders such as Henry Ford and Ransom Olds pioneered -- interchangeable parts. These manufacturers "safety" campaigns are self serving and hypocritical especially when one takes into account that, last year alone, auto manufacturers had to recall some 16.4 million vehicles.

Misleading the American consumer about green auto recycled parts also has serious environmental consequences. Reuse is the most efficient form of recycling. It uses again an existing resource and saves all the original resources and energy that would have to go into making that new part. The carbon dioxide reductions for each recycled part reused is substantial. However, millions of potentially "green" recycled parts remain unused in today's motor vehicle repair economy wasting millions of countless natural resources in the process.

"One would think that automakers that continue to try to promote themselves as being 'green' would have a more progressive view of recycled OEM parts use," says Automotive Recyclers Association's (ARA) Chief Executive Officer Michael E. Wilson. Wilson added, "The recovery, reuse, and resale of quality recycled parts must remain readily available to consumers, who may not want or be able to financially afford 'new' OEM parts, and require access to these alternative part choice for their vehicle repairs."

Since 1943, the Automotive Recyclers Association ("ARA") represents an industry dedicated to the efficient removal and reuse of "green" automotive parts, and the proper recycling of inoperable motor vehicles. ARA represents over 4,500 auto recycling facilities in the United States and fourteen other countries around the world. With programs such as the Certified Automotive Recycler Program (CAR) and other partnerships, ARA members continue to provide consumers with quality, low-cost alternatives for vehicle replacement parts, while preserving our environment for a "greener" tomorrow.

To learn more about the Association, visit ARA's home page at or call (571) 208-0428.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Grant funds research into recycling of vehicles

Recent University of Windsor PhD graduate Susan Sawyer-Beaulieu may now apply her well-honed research skills locally thanks to a grant from Canadian-based company MITACS.

Sawyer-Beaulieu, 55, received a grant of $70,000 as part of MITACS' Elevate program, which provides Ontario PhD graduates the opportunity to gain research experience in areas of industrial and societal importance while working on a collaborative research project with Ontario companies.

With the help of the grant, Sawyer-Beaulieu will be able to extend her PhD research of end-of-life vehicle recyclability in partnership with the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association.

"There's been a real push to become green and make the vehicles more environmentally friendly but a lot of the initiatives have always been on the manufacturing phase or the use phase and very little done at the end of life phase," said Sawyer-Beaulieu, who has her PhD in environmental engineering.

"There is an opportunity to develop an industry in Windsor and Detroit, which have always been automotive manufacturing leaders in North America and maybe there could be opportunities to make them a leader in automotive recycling."

The grant was announced last week and Sawyer-Beaulieu shares a pool of $9.95 million with 80 Ontario PhD students from Ontario universities.

"At the end of the day we need our society to be more innovative, productive and more competitive and the question is 'how to do that?'" said Arvind Gupta, scientific director for MITACS.

"I think we haven't fully leveraged the quality of innovation that's happening at our universities to build an innovative society and that's what the funding ... is about and that's what my passion is about overall."

Gupta said per capita, Ontario universities have twice as many leading research universities than the U.S., "so clearly our universities are innovation leaders around the world by every measure."

However, Gupta said there is a retention issue with PhD graduates and many are seeking job opportunities in other countries.

"We just don't have many PhDs in our society anymore and we have to have a public debate about that and think what we can do in Canada to create a place for our PhDs to go and stay here and work here," Gupta said.

"Look at what the car industry did in California. They took a piece of the car industry that requires real knowledge, sort of brain over brawn and they have been very successful in the design and alternative fuelled industry."

"If we can become the place where smart things happen then there's no reason why industries like the car industry wouldn't create jobs here."


Million cars are scrapped illegally

Illegal scrapyards that fail to stick to the rules about removing pollutants from vehicles are making a mint from disposing of up to a million old bangers a year, an investigation by Metro and Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies has revealed.

The cowboy dealers are taking advantage of the rocketing price of scrap metal in the rapidly growing economies of India and China. In ten years, its value has soared from £6 to £200 a tonne.

Merchants are eager to cash in, but they are not so keen on making sure a car is disposed of cleanly - preventing its oil and other chemicals from seeping into the land.

One in every ten tonnes of hazardous waste in the European Union is believed to come from motor vehicles.

Under EU law, 'depollution' must be completed by all legitimate scrap merchants. They must also make sure that 85 per cent of scrapped cars are recycled.

It's an expensive business and backstreet merchants are getting around it by getting car owners to tick a box on their vehicle papers claiming they scrapped it themselves, says MEP Chris Davies.

He fears many drivers don't know what they're getting themselves into.

When they tick the box, they are claiming they have safely taken apart the vehicle bit by bit in line with EU regulations - a job that is beyond many mechanics. Legitimate businesses say they are being pushed to the brink of closure by the cowboys. Andy Kenny, of the End of Life Vehicle Recyclers Association, says authorised dealers are losing £200million a year - half the industry's value - to illegal merchants.

The government's own estimates say only 900,000 of the 2million cars scrapped this year will have a certificate to prove they were disposed of legally.

by John Higginson,

Monday, August 16, 2010

Time called on cowboy car scrap dealers

Time is being called on the activities of Rochdale cowboy car scrap dealers.

A loophole in vehicle licensing rules that has allowed millions of cars to be scrapped but not deregistered is to be closed after a campaign by Liberal Democrat Euro-MP Chris Davies.

Environmentalists claim that it has led to thousands of tonnes of oil and brake fluid being poured down drains, while millions of old tyres have ended up dumped on wasteland or in the countryside.

The loophole allows owners of old bangers to claim that they are scrapping the cars themselves.

It has been exploited by rogue scrap dealers who use it to avoid paying to meet the depollution requirements of EU end-of-life vehicles legislation introduced 10 years ago.

Now the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Swansea is to start the issue of revised V5C registration forms.

Mr Davies has been working for four years with operators of licensed waste treatment facilities to get the changes made and environmental standards improved.

He said: “The figures suggest that up to a million cars have been taken apart and scrapped on peoples’ driveways in the last 5 years. This is clearly absurd, but it’s been an uphill task to persuade the DVLA to make the changes required.

“Rogue scrap dealers advertising for old cars need to be put of business. They are not paying tax, they harm the environment, and they undercut legitimate vehicle dismantlers.”

However, the DVLA claims that it will take at least two years to issue new registration documents to every car owner and that could mean another 300,000 to 400,000 cars slipping through the net.

Mr Davies, who will shortly meet with new Business Minister Mark Prisk to discuss the issue, wants owners of every car destined for the breaker’s yard to be told that they should insist now that scrap dealers supply them with a key document.

He said: “A Certificate of Destruction is essential. It ensures that the car is deregistered and properly depolluted.”

Mr Davies says that DVLA procedures have until now failed to ensure that vehicles are deregistered even when they have in fact been dismantled. He warns that if a car taken for scrapping is in fact put back on the road by a rogue trader, the original owner will unknowingly retain responsibility if it is involved in an accident.

“The EU end-of-life directive is a good environment law intended to ensure that the millions of cars disposed of each year are treated properly. The time is long overdue for Britain to apply it across the board.”

Andy Kenny, spokesman for the End of Life Vehicle Recyclers Association said, “Cowboy dealers with a mobile phone and a van have been undercutting legitimate businesses for years with the help of the DVLA.

“Chris Davies has worked with us to slam the door on the people who dump tyres in laybys and pour poisons down the drain.

“There have been many false dawns on this issue and I hope that this time the DVLA will stick to its guns.”

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

UK - Latest figures show ELV target still a challenge

The department for business, innovation and skills has admitted the target set by the European Union for it to recycle, recovery or reuse 85% of end-of-life vehicles is a "real challenge", after issuing figures revealing that the UK again narrowly missed the goal in 2008.

While the 84.98% figure for 2008 means the UK practically met the target and has continued to improve its performance, it also means that the rate increased by less than 2% over a three-year period, with an 84.23% rate achieved in 2007 and 83.53% recorded in 2006.

Both the quantity and percentage of vehicles treated within the ELV system increased in 2008, but was still short of European targets

The data, which was submitted by the department for business, innovation and skills (BIS) to the European Commission on June 30 2010, reveals that 1,210,294 ELVs were recovered in 2008 - 71,798 more than was the case in 2007 - with a total weight of 1,175,195 tonnes.

And, despite the rate remaining below 85%, a spokeswoman for BIS was positive about the figures for 2008, telling "BIS considers that good progress has been made, with a significant increase in the number of vehicles reported in 2008 than in 2007, as well as an increase in the tonnage of material recovered above and beyond the percentage achieved in 2007."

The department noted that, based purely on the reuse, recycling and recovery rate prescribed by the Commission, the UK actually only achieved an 84% rate in 2008, but it explained that, as in previous years, it had included fuel recovery to record the 84.98% figure - something which is the subject of an "outstanding query" with the Commission.

Traditionally, efforts to increase ELV recycling rates have been hampered by the difficulty in recovering the non-metallic 25% of a car that is left after an ELV is shredded. Concerns have been expressed in the past that the UK lacks post-shredder capacity to recovery plastics, glass and other non-metal components.

The size of the task was acknowledged by the BIS spokeswoman, who labelled the 85% target a "real challenge", explaining that the activities undertaken by vehicle dismantlers, or Authorised Treatment Facilities, were generally not enough to reach an 85% goal and as such further separation of materials post-shredding was "critical".

She claimed that shredders were continuing to invest "significantly" in recovering post-shredder residue and sending less material to landfill, explaining that: "Glass is now routinely recycled and an increasing focus is being placed on plastics. As these technologies come to the fore, more capacity will become available, which has already grown strongly year-on-year."
Among the most high-profile movers to address the post-shredder, or automotive shredder, residue issue has been the metals recycling giant EMR, which has put forward proposals in the past 12 months to build two large scale facilities - on Merseyside and in the West Midlands - specifically aimed at dealing with the waste stream.

The significance of the issue also prompted the British Metals Recycling Association to issue a call in November 2009 for the government to introduce a landfill tax relief scheme to encourage metals recyclers to invest in the technology needed to increase ELV recovery rates.

The announcements made by companies developing shredder residue separation technologies were welcomed by BIS, which added that it "continues to engage closely with all parties involved in the ELV chain and has been encouraging obligated parties and service providers to increase reuse, recovery and recycling in recognition of the growing challenge ahead".
Related links
The 85% recovery goal currently in place could potentially increase to 95% from 2015, although this is subject to review by the European Commission.

It is understood that a number of other EU countries have, in the past, also fallen short of the 85% target, and the European Commission has taken no formal action against the UK for failing to reach the goal, although the spokeswoman did reveal that the UK had responded "some time ago" to an informal request from the Commission over its performance in 2006.

By Nick Mann,§ion=legislation

Friday, August 06, 2010

State Farm seminars preach value of recycled parts

Today's salvage parts facility is not your father's junkyard, or even your older brother's boneyard. In just a few short years the used-component industry has become increasingly sophisticated and is a significant sourcing alternative for collision repairers.

In New Jersey, body shop owners belonging to State Farm's direct repair program (DRP) have been attending a series of educational sessions to learn more about the recycled parts process. The insurer's classes are held in locations accessible to the upper, middle and lower portions of the Garden State.

This year's seminars attracted 120 attendees representing 98 of State Farm's 113 New Jersey DRPs, known as Select Service Shops.

"People think of salvage yards as junkyards, and that's not the case," says State Farm Auto Estimatics Inspector Pete Fryzel. "The reason to bring everybody together is to not forget the role that recycled parts can play in the repair – people have been using recycled parts since Henry Ford."

Vehicle owners who are inclined to think green are intrigued with the concept as well.

"Using recycled parts helps reduce costs, expedites repairs in many cases, and helps reduce our carbon footprint," Fryzel says. The educational sessions "brought to light a lot of the issues around recycled parts," such as condition, shipping and return policies.

The program included I-CAR materials along with three New Jersey members of the Premium Recycled Parts Group (PRP), which is a collaboration of 17 salvage operations.

"They are a very sophisticated group," says Fryzel, "who comply with a high set of standards and focus on quality recycled parts. We advocate the shops use the PRP group because we know they're good, they price their parts correctly, their recycled parts are quality and their delivery is prompt."

According to I-CAR figures, 75 percent of the vehicles going into salvage are recyclable in some way; 75 percent of the parts do indeed get reused, 20 percent are recycled as raw materials and 5 percent are destined to be buried underground. "The goal is to reduce the amount of parts going into the landfill," Fryzel notes, adding that it is also "one of the responsibilities we have to keep costs under control."

Estimatics Team Manager Vincent Castaldo says using recycled parts is well within the realm of the "State Farm satisfaction promise to the policyholders for fit, corrosion resistance qualities, and performance for as long as the customer owns the vehicle."

"We're all concerned with the cost of repairs for our mutual customer," says Fryzel. "If our repair costs go up, premiums can potentially follow."

The salvage parts trade is the nation's 13th largest industry, amounting to $10 billion in annual sales – much of them coming from the collision repair segment. Instant messaging has greatly enhanced connectivity among the yards and their customers, Fryzel says.

"Everybody's on the same page," says seminar attendee Michael Gerstein, owner of Circle Collision Center in Old Bridge, N.J. "The key is to have a strong network to reach out to the other places in the blink of an eye. You don't want to wait a couple of days for information on your parts – you want someone to say, 'I'll get back to you in a couple of minutes.'"

"The quality (of the used parts industry) is better than it’s been in years," Gerstein continues. "It's really tremendous. If I want to see something they can get me a picture (of the part) in minutes."

Circle's customers are equally enamored because "they understand 'green,'" he says. "They want quality parts – not aftermarket parts."

Flemington Auto Body was one of the first shops in its area to make the switch to waterborne paint, and pushing the ecological aspect of salvage components – along with the associated cost savings – is among the operation's marketing plans, according to office manager Scott Shepherd.

"It's coming full-circle now, especially with this oil spill," he points out, referring to heightened customer interest in the issue. "The recycled parts are helping the environment because they're being reused."

Shepherd says that while aftermarket parts typically still lack consistency in fit, form and function, "recycled parts are OEM – it's the same thing."

Imparted at the seminars was the fact that customers need not fear that their late model vehicle will return from the shop outfitted with leftovers from a 1964 Falcon. "Your car is three years old, so it has three-year-old parts on it," says Shepherd, adding that "a lot of the recycled stuff has driven down the OE prices" for new components.

"They're really brought the recycled industry around. Within the last five years they've really gotten their act together," he says.

In the past, ordering from salvage yards "created a lot of problems and it was not something that we really wanted to do," Shepherd recalls, noting that Flemington's cycle times are now equal whether OEM or recycled parts are applied. "It's working a lot smoother now."

Providing prompt and accurate information is a particularly admirable aspect of today's recycler, according to Shepherd. "It's critical to know the condition of the part ahead of time, and they'll be honest about it instead of saying, 'We'll wait and see.'"

Citing a past incident in which a previously pristine hood arrived in a seriously bent state, Shepherd praises the refinements being made in the delivery process. "They've gotten so much better at handling the parts; they're taking better care of them and they've got the proper equipment to deliver them."

As a recent example of appreciated customer service, Shepherd tells of how a recycler brought over an entire front portion of a matching car being worked on and then removed the carcass when the job was done. "There are all kinds of crazy clips and fasteners on these things, and to have the whole nose sitting next to you is a nice way to do it."

By James E. Guyette,