Changes in the automotive industry are constantly impacting the way vehicles are repaired.
As part of its Auto Physical Damage Industry Trends Report released in the fourth quarter of 2019, Mitchell looked into the top five automotive trends for 2020.
According to Ryan Mandell, Director, Performance Consulting at Mitchell International and author of the article, these trends include continued growth in vehicle electrification; the growing presence of startup vehicle companies; new and improved digital platforms; expanded level 3 automation; and increasing utilization of carbon fibre in vehicle construction. Collision Management interviewed Mandell and asked him to share some of his perspectives on these trends.
Impact of electrification
The increasing electrification of modern vehicles is expected to have a massive impact on the way collision repair shops repair vehicles and do business. According to Mandell, “it has the potential to be a catalyst for shops to really start thinking about repairs in a different way and evolve their businesses. The way in which EVs are constructed and engineered really brings that to the forefront when completing repairs in a collision setting.”
To ensure that motorists are not discouraged from purchasing these vehicles, it is essential for shops to be sufficiently equipped to handle growing volumes of hybrids and EVs that will require collision repairs. Mandell notes that having proper tools, training and equipment are necessary. “Shops will need to ensure the high voltage system is being managed properly to ensure the integrity of the battery and components as well as the safety of the employees working on the vehicle.” For this reason, up to date training is becoming more important.
Electrification of vehicles is also expected to have a major impact on the severity of vehicle repairs. The severity data from EVs versus Internal Combustion Engine vehicles (ICEs) shows that EVs are about two-thirds more costly to repair than ICEs, according to Mandell. Although the majority of EV claims are for Tesla, even taking those out of the equation shows that EVs are about 20 percent more expensive to repair.
Major changes from automakers
Automakers today are beginning to provide Over the Air (OTA) updates and improvements for their vehicles. The collision repair industry can potentially benefit from an increase in this kind of OTA assistance. “I believe that in the near future we will see OEM dealers have the ability to provide remote technical assistance and potentially diagnostics and calibrations using the vehicle’s embedded OTA capabilities,” says Mandell. “The advantage of this would be creating a process for the collision repair facility that provides an even more efficient path to producing a proper and safe repair,” he explains.
Another major change is the growing use of materials like carbon fibre and other lightweight substrates in vehicle construction. For collision repair shops, this means different tools and equipment, additional training and different techniques—all impacting cycle and touch times, estimates and severity of repairs. “There will continue to be increasing parts costs as more panels are constructed of materials that are not repairable, such as Ultra High Strength Steel (UHSS), and therefore require replacement. Labour times and likely labour rates will increase due to the additional time needed to work with these materials and the investment required for specialized tools and equipment,” notes Mandell. He therefore believes that it is critical for collision repairers to educate their clients about the specialized type of work needed when repairing their vehicles.
In conclusion, Mandell adds, “Increased collaboration on repairing EVs will ensure that best practices are applied as broadly as possible and will put shops who are just starting to see EVs in their facilities in the best position to be successful.”