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GM to Lay off 14K Factory Workers in North America

In late November, General Motors announced plans to lay off over 14,000 factory and white collar workers in North America and said it might close five plants, according to New Jersey.com.

The company is restructuring to cut costs and focus more on autonomous and electric vehicles. The reduction includes 8,100 white-collar workers, some of whom will take buyouts and others who will be laid off. Most of the affected factories build cars that won't be sold in the U.S. after next year.

The factories could close or they could get different vehicles to build. The plants will be part of contract talks with the United Auto Workers union later in 2019.

General Motors plants left without products include assembly plants in Detroit; Lordstown, Ohio; and Oshawa, Ontario. Also affected are transmission factories in Warren, Mich., as well as Baltimore.​

Older Recalled Vehicles Less Likely to be Repaired

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted in mid-November that, in particular, older vehicles have a lower rate of being fixed due to recalls than newer ones.

Vehicles that are 6–10 years old when a recall is made have an average 56 percent completion rate. For cars 1–5 years old, the rate jumps to 76 percent, and 80 percent for vehicles newer than 3 years old, the administration indicated.

Some of the recalls that affect numerous vehicles are the ongoing recall on Takata air bags, which affects more than 50 million air bags in 37 million vehicles. The air bags are prone to deploying after long-term exposure to high heat and humidity.

​Ford Recalls Four New Models

On Nov. 16, Ford issued four safety recalls for recent models of its top-selling SUVs and trucks, as reported by the The Detroit Free Press.

​The alert applies to the 2018 Ford Explorer, 2019 Ford Super Duty, 2018 Ford Expedition, 2018 Lincoln Navigator and the 2019 Lincoln Nautilus. The manufacturer noted that it is not aware of any accidents, injuries or fires to date related to the latest recalled vehicles.

Roughly 38,000 vehicles with second-row center bench seats may be missing J-channel reinforcement brackets in the seat track assembly. A seat track missing one or both J-channel reinforcement brackets may not properly restrain the seat assembly during a crash, increasing the risk of injury.

The Future for MSO Symposium, Tech Forum, NACE

While the annual MSO Symposium—one of NACE's flagship events, a one-day event specifically for multi-shop operations—and associated collision repair industry events will still be held while co-located with each other in 2019, NACE will now be held every two years, said Jennie Link, communications manager for the MSO Symposium.  

​The news comes after speculation regarding the future of NACE, the Automotive Service Association’s event, and a partnership with Messe Frankfurt and Automechanika.

NACE launched during the 1990s, when the industry's technical challenges revolved around matters like the introduction of the first emissions control systems, disc brakes and electronic ignitions, said Tony Molla, Automotive Service Association vice president. NACE attendance numbers had largely dwindled since the show split from the SEMA Show in 2009, and the latter experienced a continual rise in prominence.

In 2013, NACE hit an attendance low, with fewer than 5,000 attendees. In 2017, a

partnership with Messe Frankfurt brought NACE to Chicago. Now, NACE will take a break in 2019 and return in 2020 with a still unknown look and schedule for the event, Molla indicated.

In the past, NACE was held during the same time as other industry events like the MSO Symposium, the Collision Industry Conference, the Technology & Telematics Forum (which focuses on advanced automotive technology) and the Collision Repair Education Foundation's annual golf tournament.

Last August, the MSO Symposium was held in Atlanta in conjunction with the Technology &

Telematics Forum and other industry meetings at the NACE Automechanika Show.

For 2019, the MSO Symposium will be held in July in Indianapolis, and Lenk said tentative dates for that event are July 25–26. The Collision Industry Conference will also take place in Indianapolis, running July 24–25. ​

​Study: Distracted Driving Causes More Severe Crashes

A recent study by the Risk Institute at Ohio State University noted that crashes caused by distracted driving tend to be more severe than others, and the severity depends on the type of setting in which the crashes occur, The Washington Post reported. ​

According to the study, distracted driving raised the odds that a crash will cause severe injury or death, compared with other crashes, particularly if those crashes involve rear-end collisions or occur in work zones or interstate highways. By contrast, roundabouts or rotaries appear to lower the risk of crashes and diminish the

severity of distraction-related crashes.

The analysis found that in-vehicle distraction accounted for 48 percent of the crashes. The study also noted that younger drivers, especially those between 20-24 years of age, account for the highest percentage of crashes.

Ohio State’s study analyzed 1.4 million police records obtained from the Ohio Department of Transportation for crashes that occurred between 2013-17. During that period, the number of distracted-driving-related crashes increased in Ohio, just as the number has increased nationwide, according to the report.

Study: Barely Half of 2018 Vehicles Have Adequate Lighting

​Nov. 29, 2018—Just over half of 2018 model vehicles IIHS recently evaluated are available with headlights that do an adequate job of lighting the road at night and limiting glare for oncoming drivers. However, most good-rated headlights are optional or bundled with features that can raise the price of a vehicle.​

Since the Institute released its first headlight ratings for passenger vehicles in 2016, manufacturers have focused on improving this safety feature. In 2016, only 2 of 95 headlight systems that IIHS evaluated earned a good rating.

For the 2018 model year, the best-available headlights on 32 of 165 models evaluated earn the highest rating of good, and the best-available headlights on 58 models earn the second-highest rating of acceptable. Thirty-two models have only marginal-rated headlights, while poor-rated headlights are the only ones available for 43 models.

Most headlights use one of three light sources: halogen, high-intensity discharge (HID) or

LED. Each of these can be paired with either a multifaceted reflector or a projector lens. Projector headlights use one lens to spread the light out, while reflectors use shiny surfaces that bounce the light forward.

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