Winnipeg opens state-of-the-art centre for auto research and training

A one-of-a-kind facility designed to keep pace with the automotive industry's quickly evolving design and construction technologies has opened in Winnipeg.

New centre will help auto industry adapt to latest repair methods

A collection of new and older vehicles and technologies are on display at the opening of Winnipeg's new automotive research and training centre on Tuesday. (John Einarson/CBC)

A one-of-a-kind facility designed to keep pace with the automotive industry's quickly evolving design and construction technologies has opened in Winnipeg.

The new Centre for Automotive Research and Training will help the auto industry adapt to the latest repair methods for vehicles built of complex materials, including aluminum, carbon fibre and high-strength and ultra-high-strength steels, says a news release from Manitoba Public Insurance.

"Changes in how vehicles are manufactured are having a significant impact on the repairability of new vehicles," Crown Services Minister Cliff Cullen said.

"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 standards."

A Ford Model A and Model T Coupe are among vehicles on display at the automotive research and training centre. (John Einarson/CBC)

CART is inside the J.W. Zacharias Physical Damage Research Centre in the city's North Transcona neighbourhood.

Technicians from the centre will work closely with Manitoba's repair industry and Red River College to provide training on new and emerging techniques and equipment.

That will result in significant savings for collision repair shops that would otherwise have to spend thousands of dollars to send their technicians to out-of-province training sessions, said MPI president Dan Guimond.

"This facility and the staff within it will ensure that the auto body technicians in Manitoba remain highly skilled and able to respond to rapidly changing vehicle construction and repair techniques," he said.

"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."

MPI will also partner with other collision research facilities around the world to investigate new and cost-effective vehicle repair techniques, tools and equipment, Guimond said.

Global auto repair conference in Winnipeg

The training centre was revealed as delegates from around the world are converging in Winnipeg this week for the 2017 Research Council for Automotive Repair conference.

"This conference is specifically designed to facilitate the exchange of information on research findings and strategies for implementation of cutting-edge research in automotive technology," Guimond said.

"There is no better location than our new training and research centre to host this important conference."

The conference also features a showcase of automakers with a focus on emerging technologies — including the latest trends in electric vehicles and self-driving vehicles — as well as classic and collector vehicles.