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     We spent last weekend at the North American International Auto Show ( naisa) or the Detroit Auto Show for short. I have attended this show for almost a decade now recording for both television and radio. Couple of impressions that I wanted to share with you. The theme of this year’s event , was the introduction of the plug-in hybrid. These new vehicles will drive about 60 kms before requiring a recharge. The recharge can be accomplished ether by plugging the thing in or starting the on board gasoline engine.
     Seems everybody had this technology in one form or other ready and available or it was on the way. The common trend in this automotive feature seems to be “60 kms or better on a single electric charge”. I asked why 60 kms. Research shows that the average commuter drives less than 60 kms per day. If true, you could go through life never having to by gasoline again. Personally, I’m excited about the advantages of this technology, but, being a tech I wouldn’t buy one. At least not right away.
     We have gone through so many new innovations over the years that experience has taught us that things don’t always go as planned. Especially, when the product is in the field. Will there be service issues? How will the batteries react at say 30 below? How good is your cell phone work after being in the deep freeze over night it uses the same battery type as is proposed in these vehicles. How much training and new equipment will be required to service these vehicles? Only time will tell. Impression number two. We might have seen the tipping point as far as extravagant auto shows are concerned.
     Seven manufactures opted out of what is known to be the premier event in the motor city. This year’s show wasn’t over the top as have been previous events. Why? Obviously the cars companies have drastically trimmed their budgets, but, according to the experts the information that was available only at the show is now readily available through other mediums. The internet, newspapers and television. Will these shows fully disappear? I don’t think so, they’re still great entertainment on a cold winter’s night.

     The auto show circuit hit Southern Ontario this week. Like most industries in the world the auto industry is very trendy, every year there is “the” must have product for your display area. This year is no exception. This year it’s either a Hybrid or a “plug in electric” or a combination of the two. Most of the new offerings will disappear long before they hit the market place.
     I had a conversation with the folks at Toyota talking about their experience with Hybrids. Seems the Prius which is entering it’s third generation hybrid technology in 2009 has had a great service history. Toyota’s synergy system is now 10 years in service and still going strong. According to Toyota’s spokes person John-Paul Farag some of these vehicles are being used as taxi’s in BC. Admittedly is a tough way to treat a car and they are standing up well. In fact Ford’s Hybrid escape is also in Taxi use in the Big Apple and doing quite well thank you. Unfortunately there are relatively few of these vehicles on the road in Canada. Whichever; technology is dominant it will be up to the service industry to get up to speed to service these vehicles. Which brings me to a sore point; manufactures have be resisting sharing the repair information with the aftermarket for all these new and current technologies that are available.
     The issue of “The right to repair” Bill C273 – The Right to Repair Bill, will be debated in the House of Commons on March 5th, 2009. Every Member of Parliament must know about this issue and the Bill. Why should you care? Well your right to choose your repair facility is being restricted. A lot of bad things happen when you only have one source of service. Ask anyone who deals with the phone companies around here. Get involved.