Mitchell and Toyota continue to build on an established safe and proper repair strategy.
Mitchell recently announced that its Cloud Estimating Software can now surface VIN-specific safety and emissions-related recalls on Toyota vehicles.
In many ways this is a game-changer for collision repair centres since it allows them to gain access to safety recall information in real-time, allowing the data to be added to the actual estimate before it is written.
Faster, more accurate estimates
The result means, faster, more accurate estimates can be written, while at the same time collision centres in both Canada and the U.S. can share this information with the vehicle owner and integrate it with their overall blueprinting process. Adding Toyota information further expands Mitchell’s ability to provide recall data access via its Cloud Estimating for vehicles from multiple OEMs.
To find out more information, Autosphere interviewed Jack Rozint, Senior Vice President of Repair Sales at Mitchell.
Mitchell and Toyota partnership
Autosphere: How does this access to real-time recall data further build upon the partnership between Mitchell and Toyota?
Jack Rozint: As an information provider that provides estimating software to all the OEMs, we have a strong working relationship based on what we do.
Several years ago, both Toyota and Mitchell discovered they shared a deep value in performing safe and proper repairs—especially vehicles damaged in collisions. In 2015 we worked very closely with Toyota to launch Toyota Recommended Repair Procedures in our estimating software and that was a first of its kind, which I believe, nobody has replicated to date.
Instead of having a blank piece of paper and writing an estimate line by line, what this does is bring up a template of what we call a flat car—a diagram from the roof and you can see bumpers and everything— in a template form. You basically just click on an item on the template, such as the bumper, and then you just type the operation you want to do, such as repair and replace and the system automatically builds out the estimate based on Toyota’s specific recommended repair procedures for that vehicle.
Everything Toyota recommended for repair procedures is automatically built into the estimate, including things like performing recalibrations as well as sanding and prepping the bumper cover as well as refinishing. By doing it in time and making it available to an estimating system we can also show which parts are reusable and which aren’t, for example, non-reusable clips and fasteners that are designed for one-time use only.
If this information wasn’t available, your technicians might not know that by trying to reuse parts that were not designed for that. From this, we have been able to add additional features, of which the real-time recall data is one. With this latest tool, every time an estimate is printed off and is decoded, the VIN is decoded in our software and we bounce that VIN off of Toyota and see if there is a safety recall on the vehicle.
We can then provide that information to the estimator who has the ability to immediately inform the customer that there is an open recall on the vehicle.
Alerting consumers and assisting repairers
How do you think this real-time access will aid not only in providing alerts to consumers but ensuring those recalls are tackled and the work performed as efficiently as possible?
JR: That’s a very interesting thing because today, there are strict limits on what you can do with personal information. What we have done with Toyota is similar to what happens with most recalls and information that pops up in various places in the automotive aftermarket, it gives the user of our software [the collision repair facility] information in a form they can very easily and quickly communicate to the vehicle owner.
What are your views on how real-time access like this can strengthen brand reputation and awareness for Toyota and also the shops that perform the recall work?
JR: Every one of these collision repair facilities has a relationship with a Toyota dealer from whom they purchase their genuine parts and often that dealer will be the one performing a lot of recall repairs because they have the tools, equipment and training as well as being authorized by the OEM to do this work.
Therefore, it is a simple, closed-loop scenario for the collision repair shop estimator to be able to inform the customer of the local dealer’s information who is the one that will perform this recall work at no cost to the customer.
Also, when we see the kind of effort that Toyota has put out into the aftermarket to reach out and find any safety-related issue with the vehicle that they have manufactured and to be proactive about finding the owner of that vehicle and offering the vehicle recall service speaks volumes in terms of making vehicle safety as a top concern and that often, is going to influence that customer’s next car-buying decision.
Vehicle complexity and recalls
As vehicles become more complex and the likelihood of the number of recalls increases – how do you think this real-time data can further assist both OEMs like Toyota and collision repairers that Mitchell works with?
JR: I think that as we get into more and more complex systems and networks, the more likely we’ll see barriers around them.
Today, vehicles are essentially complex computer networks on wheels, and so there are software issues with multiple different aspects, including sensors like LiDAR and radar that weren’t even installed on a vehicle 10 years ago and today, a lot of these ADAS features can trigger a safety-related recall.
The primary purpose of these systems is the safety of the occupants of the vehicle and today, by having this kind of data integration, to have OEMs integrate with systems used in the automotive aftermarket, it allows them to stay in touch with the vehicles even after it has been transferred from its original owner.
From the OEM’s perspective, this is also really important in terms of brand reputation.
Do you also feel there is a possible impact related to vehicle insurance as a result of this real-time recall data capability?
JR: Insurance underwriting is an extremely complicated process and is based on a whole variety of factors in rating a driver and looking at the risk to the vehicle.
When you’re looking at the latter, ADAS systems have certainly played a part and now, with proven data showing that ADAS systems reduce the frequency and severity of the collision, there is the potential for insurance being less expensive on that vehicle because of the ADAS features.
The downside, however, is a front clip of a vehicle that is loaded with camera, radar, LiDAR and airbag sensors is going to be more expensive to repair when it’s been impacted following a collision. And because the costs to fix it are higher, it is likely going to be more expensive to insure.
From a high level, vehicles that tend to have fewer recalls, as a result of better build quality and if those recalls can be dealt with quickly and efficiently, there is certainly a way that these factors could play into a positive outcome in terms of insurance rates.
Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
JR: Getting back to the concept of a proper and safe repair, it is interesting how this concept is becoming very prevalent now.
At Mitchell, we feel that we were ahead of the curve five years ago when we made a conscious decision to place proper and safe vehicle repair at the forefront of everything we do in terms of our software and our services.
Today’s vehicles are so complicated that we have to make sure we have software that enables the shop to write a quick and efficient estimate, as well as providing insurance companies with the tools to manage claims cost-effectively and ensure vehicles are fixed promptly through our work order solutions.
Whether it’s through Mitchell Diagnostics or these types of OEM outreach programs to assist with recall data and the OEM repair procedure delivery to the estimators, this is an aspect of the repair process that is becoming more important every day.