Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) has opened a new, state-of-the-art centre for automotive research and training to keep pace with “rapid changes in the design, construction, technology and reparability of motor vehicles,” provincial Minister of Crown Services Cliff Cullen announced on Tuesday.
The new research and training centre – located in the J.W. Zacharias Physical Damage Research Centre in Winnipeg – will enable qualified technicians to work in collaboration with Manitoba’s repair industry, as it adapts repair methods related to vehicles now being constructed of complex materials, including aluminum, carbon fibre, high strength and ultra, high-strength steels.
“Changes in how vehicles are manufactured are having a significant impact on the reparability of new vehicles,” Cullen said in a release from MPI. “The opening of this new research and training facility will benefit vehicle owners and Manitoba’s collision repair industry by ensuring that when vehicles are involved in collisions, they will be properly repaired back to original equipment manufacturer (OEM) standards.”
Technicians in the centre will work work closely with Manitoba’s repair industry and Red River College to offer access to training on new and emerging vehicle repair techniques and equipment. This will result in “significant savings for local collision repair shops that would otherwise have to spend thousands of dollars to send their autobody technicians to out-of-province training sessions,” MPI suggested in the release.
“Manitoba Public Insurance recognizes that the auto manufacturing industry is creating significant change for the collision repair industry and costs of repairs are increasing, which is why we are taking steps to save Manitobans money over the long-term,” the Crown corporation’s president and chief executive officer, Dan Guimond, said in the release.
Guimond noted that the facility and staff will ensure that auto body technicians in Manitoba remain highly skilled and able to respond to rapidly changing vehicle construction and repair techniques. It’s expected that by next year, half of the Manitoba fleet will represent vehicles with complex materials, many of which require specialized training, tooling, equipment and facilities to ensure these vehicles are repairs safely back to manufacturer standards, he added.
“Doing so ensures that if our customers are involved in subsequent collisions, they will never be put at risk to injury or death as a result of their vehicles not being repaired properly back to manufacturer standards. This also helps to ensure the value of a vehicle is not diminished as a result of being involved in a motor vehicle collision, thereby protecting the financial investments of our customers,” Guimond said.
Moving forward, the centre will also host technical training courses for the collision repair community, in addition to offering tours to Manitoba high school students who may have an interest in becoming an auto repair technician. MPI will also leverage its relationships with other collision research facilities around the world to investigate new and cost-effective vehicle repair techniques, tools and equipment for use by Manitoba collision repair shops, the release said.