Industry Experts Predict 2021’s Trends

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Jan. 28, 2021—The year of the COVID-19 takeover was responsible for shaking every major industry to its core and the automotive industry was no exception. Furloughed, laid off, and working from home employees decreased the amount of time that the average American spent behind the wheel. This jolt was felt across the auto industry, altering many trends and creating many more.

Each year, mPower by Mitchell publishes reports on the coming year’s trends in the automotive and collision repair industries. Their insights are invaluable to shop owners looking to stay on the cutting edge of the newest industry trends and technology. FenderBender came up with seven takeaways from the reports, “Five Automotive Trends to Watch in 2021” and “2021 Auto Casualty Predictions."

Personal Vehicle Ownership to Increase

For half a decade leading up to 2020, ride-sharing companies threatened to destroy personal vehicle ownership. People turned to Lyft, Uber, or carpools to get to work instead of personal vehicles. The trends report says that an effect of COVID-19 was a resurgence in personal vehicle usage. As the CDC advised Americans to create small circles of people, the car became “our own private bubble,” the reports says, moving many to opt to ride alone.

The trends report cites Uber purchasing Postmates for $2.65 billion to show that ride-share companies are moving to the transportation of goods. This transition will only reinforce the resurgence of personal vehicles further.

Expansion of EV and Hybrid Vehicles

The trends report says that the 2021 U.S. lineup includes 75 electric or hybrid electric models, a number that increased by 16 from the year before. That's a result of auto manufacturers introducing EV or hybrid vehicles of their own, such as Ford’s EV F-150 and GM’s EV Hummer.

More competition in the EV and hybrid domains will increase the innovation behind the engineering. Consumers are concerned about the range of electric vehicles. In 2021, however, the average range of EV and hybrid vehicles is expected to increase by 9 percent, according to the trends report. Overall the consumer gains a longer, more advanced, and greener ride experience.

Decreased Traffic, Increased Speeds, Greater Severity

A result of COVID-19 was a rise in crash severity, a trend so prevalent that both reports address it. The casualty report links a decrease in miles driven to less busy roads, increasing incidents of speeding. Increased speeding led to vehicle collision estimates labeled as “non-drivable” to increase by nearly 6 percent. Airbag deployments also increased by 22 percent, according to the trends report. Both reports predict higher repair costs, insurance demands, and settlement amounts.

Collision Repair Diagnostics

Collision repair diagnostics are expected to become more widespread throughout the next year, states the trends report. While this may seem like an extra burden, this is actually a positive shift in collision repair. The trends report continues: one collision repair diagnostics scan reveals more information than seven diagnostic trouble codes.

An added benefit of this shift is it assures car owners and insurance providers that the vehicle was returned to peak performance and safety. 

Telemedicine and Increased Regulation

The casualty report predicts that a wave of new technology will enter the realm of telemedicine, a shift making it more accessible and applicable to a larger number of cases. Furthermore, the casualty report forecasts that many state legislatures will pass bills extending this health option to auto accidents injuries, a regulatory change that will require insurance companies to provide for telehealth care.

Along with increased telemedicine regulations, the casualty report states that many auto-based regulations will be rolled out. The largest of which is the groundbreaking Michigan no-fault fee schedule, a tiered system of determining what insurers should charge for medical claims.

More Insurance, More Fraud

With a rise in more expensive insurance claims, the casualty report predicts an increase in insurance fraud. Every year, insurance fraud tops more than $30 billion, a number expected to increase with the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. To back up this claim, the casualty report cites federal agencies charging 345 individuals, 100 of which were medical providers, in a $6 billion fraud case. As fraud increases, insurance carriers will be on high alert to detect these schemes.

On the Cutting Edge

The pandemic will have a large effect on the industry for the foreseeable future, the trends report says. With the future looking hazy, and years-long trends being tossed by COVID, it is important for shop owners to watch projected trends to stay afloat. Staying on the cutting edge of trends within the automotive industry is important to remain competitive within the market.

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