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Josh McFarlin

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What topics and issues does this new course cover?

Vehicle Technology and Trends 2014, or “NEW14,” covers what vehicle makers are up to for the 2014 model year. We first discuss trends in innovations and technology that more than one vehicle maker is employing for 2014.

The first module also covers new trends in safety, new products and equipment technologies. Then, the next three modules call out what's new for North American, Asian and European vehicle makers. A final module takes a glimpse ahead at what's anticipated beyond 2014.

What void in the industry's education system does this new course help to fill?

Being I-CAR, we take these technologies and trends from a collision repair point of view, most of which is not and will never be available on the Internet.

Much has been said and written about the new Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, for example. This course shows what unique procedures were used during the development of the body and frame, what series of aluminum is used, and what repair procedures are available on this vehicle. We've talked to the vehicle makers to obtain body characteristics and repair procedures before this information is made available to the repair industry.

What do you feel are some of the most important technologies and trends that shop owners should be aware of?

Aluminum continues to be growing in popularity, increasing the possibility that more technicians will be faced with having to perform aluminum repairs. The use of carbon fiber is also gaining ground. For instance, there's a BMW with a body made almost completely of carbon fiber, and, while there are repair procedures available for carbon fiber, they are not widely known or understood.

The use of ultra-high-strength steels (UHSS) is becoming more widespread. The 2014 Acura MDX has a one-piece front door ring that is constructed with 1,500 MPa steel. The UHSS front floor pan on the Fiat 500L makes that the second Chrysler Group vehicle with a floor pan that strong. The first was on the 2013 Dodge Dart.

Vehicle makers have had to be creative designing for the IIHS offset side impact crash test, which has led to more use of UHSS in different parts.
Other trends to note: Estimating is becoming a paperless operation, with more companies offering estimating based entirely on a tablet while standing by the vehicle. There are more vehicles coming with the new R1234yf refrigerant. And Infiniti has introduced the first "steer-by-wire" technology on the 2014 Q50.

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