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GM Exec: National Rollout Could Come in October

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DETROIT, July 24, 2015—Roughly nine months after its initial announcement, General Motors said Friday that its automated real-time parts pricing program began a pilot launch in the Denver area on Wednesday, and a national rollout could come as soon as October.

Kris Mayer, GM general director of the Wholesale Dealer Channel, made the announcement during a panel discussion on Day 2 of the 2015 NACE/CARS Expo & Conference on Friday at the COBO Center in Detroit.

Mayer was one of five panelists in a discussion moderated by Dan Risley, executive director and president of the Automotive Service Association (ASA).

In a release prior to the event, GM’s Mayer said the intent of the panel was to provide clarity to key issues surrounding the program and answer lingering questions about its launch and implementation.

General Motors originally announced the launch of the new program at the 2014 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. The announcement was met with resistance from the collision repair industry, and GM eventually elected to pause its release until it could gather more information from the industry. 

In May, GM said it would begin market tests of the revamped program in select cities. 

The first news to come out of the panel surrounded the pilot program, which Mayer said launched Wednesday in the Denver market.

“We’ve been quiet up to now because we’ve been working hard,” Mayer said, noting that his team at GM has worked closely with body shops, dealers, insurers and estimating system providers to find a solution for all parties involved. Mayer believes his team has done that.

“There’s something truly in it for everyone and we tried to look at it that way,” he said. “It can’t be truly one-sided.”

Mayer said GM trained dealers and body shops in the Denver area prior to the pilot’s rollout, and five of the top-10 major insurance carriers are involved in it. He said they would continue the program and monitor the progress for “90 days or so” before looking at a national launch, which Mayer said GM would like to have happen before the winter collision season and as early as October.

The main issues, according to the panelists, is shop implementation and estimating system integration.

The panel—which also consisted of GM’s John Eck, Bill Lopez of OEConnection, Gary Gumushian of AudaExplore, Jim Kinsherf of CCC Information Services, and Jesse Herrera of Mitchell International—agreed that the main focus of the program’s rollout needed to be on creating a process that caused a minimum of disruption in the businesses that will use it.

“It works as it does today,” Eck said. “A shop will go in write an estimate as they do today and the price will populate. There’s really no more detail than that—it’s as simple as that.”

“From a shop perspective, really, it’s the same,” Lopez added. “The shop will write the estimate, it will hit the dynamic pricing engine, and when it comes time to make the order from the dealer, the dealer will be able to do a quote look up and at that point they will see if what the latest price is if there is a price change. And in that instance, like in what the dealer does today, they will decide whether they will honor the price on the estimate or they will let the body shop know.”

The panel also discussed its ability to engage shops throughout the country to gather their input on the program and how it can be implemented into their daily workflows.

“General Motors, about 35-40 percent of our dealers have body shops themselves. … They gave us a lot of input, as well, but we also went out and sought out folks within the industry,” Mayer said. “[The Society of Collision Repair Specialists] was very helpful. We’ve gotten a lot of input and just trying to understand that workflow, what happens today, what influences their decisions.

“And even for the Denver pilot right now, we explained how the process would work for those Denver body shops, and it seems to going well so far.”

Eck added that there have been “actual body shop visits,” as well.

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