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I-CAR Declines OEM Standards Facilitation

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After announcing a multiple-step plan last summer to facilitate and maintain a centralized database of published OEM technical repair procedures in support of an industry repair standards effort, I-CAR’s board of directors has voted not to move forward with the initiative.

Several collision repair industry organizations made a declaration in November 2011 recognizing OEM-based repair procedures as the industry standard. Those groups—the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS), Automotive Service Association (ASA), Alliance of Automotive Service Providers (AASP) and Assured

Performance Network—requested for I-CAR to compile all published OEM procedures within one centralized location to give repairers easy and affordable access.

During the I-CAR Industry Event in San Antonio in July 2012, I-CAR’s president and CEO John Van Alstyne said the organization agreed to spearhead the effort. He presented a five-step approach that included the development of a repairability council, knowledge portal, repairability forum, repairability summit, and for I-CAR to serve as an OEM link to the repair industry.

I-CAR’s board of directors unanimously voted to cancel the plans during a board meeting March 7.

“There are different interests in the industry, and standards was not a direction that I-CAR wanted to take for a number of reasons. It’s a very expensive undertaking with more liability and risk,” says Rollie Benjamin, vice chair of I-CAR’s board.

I-CAR says facilitating the standards effort would have created three main dilemmas:

1. It could create perceptions that I-CAR is catering to the interests of one industry segment to the possible disadvantage of others.

2. There could be difficulties constructing and managing the requested council that would meet the needs of both the requesters and I-CAR’s inter-industry charter.

3. Although I-CAR points to OEM procedures as the baseline for repairs, there are opportunities to define recommended repair processes that would support or supplement OEM procedures given the span of possible repairs and consumer and insurer interests.

I-CAR is a training organization for the industry, Van Alstyne says, and it would be a conflict of interest to deliver training on a set of standards it directly helps create and facilitate. “The whole political undertone of the situation” makes it difficult for I-CAR to keep its “neutrality,” he says.

Scott Biggs, CEO of the Assured Performance Network, does not believe I-CAR’s decision was made in the best interests of the inter-industry.

“Item number three is where the smoking gun is,” Biggs says. “I-CAR is saying very clearly that the board, as it’s currently assembled today, voted not to embrace the statement that OE repair procedures are the foundation for the collision industry repair standard. The lines have been drawn. It’s clear who sits where.”

Although I-CAR’s board is composed of 22 representatives from all segments of the industry, Benjamin asserts that no individual’s special interests were considered in the board’s decision.

“We looked at this from I-CAR’s perspective as to what I-CAR should be doing in terms of its mission statement,” Benjamin says.

This doesn’t mean that the standards effort initially declared in 2011 is dead. I-CAR continues to consider elements of its proposed plan as independent projects, including expansion of its technical processes, resources and support; maintaining relations with OEMs; development of technical OEM Industry Segment Advisory

Councils; and expanded repairability summits.

“This was a key part of our five-piece solution, and remains under consideration of the board,” Van Alstyne says. “We think there are gaps, and opportunities to provide a balanced perspective, and that’s work that we can help support with this model moving forward.”

The only initiative that I-CAR will not follow through with is creation of a council to facilitate and maintain the resource through which repairers could access the information.

Biggs says a council made up of manufacturers, repairers and associations has continued discussions to develop plans and coordinate actions to move the effort forward. The council has created websites, portals, reporting mechanisms, and a liaison link-pinning process with OEMs. The next step is to identify a process for maintaining the information.

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