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U.K.’s Thatcham Discusses Most Important Technologies, Trends

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May 5, 2016—Advanced drive assistance systems (ADAS) will impact collision volume but factors such as population growth and urbanization may mitigate the overall effect on the collision repair industry, Andrew Hooker of U.K.-based Thatcham Research Centre told FenderBender on Wednesday.

Thatcham—a leading research, development and training firm funded by the U.K. insurance industry—will host its “Bodyshop of the Future” presentation and exhibit on June 14 at its Repair Focus conference, an event at which Thatcham Research will highlight what it sees as the most important trends and technologies for the collision repair industry moving forward. 

“ADAS … will have an effect on claims volume and types of crashes, reducing many impact types, and saving lives and reducing serious injuries,” Hooker said. “Head-Up Displays (HUDs) are an ADAS item which may grow in popularity rapidly.”

Although ADAS will reduce many accident types, trends like population growth and urbanization will have contrary effects, he added. Plus, it will take a new understanding how these systems relate to others in the car to complete an effective repair. 

HUDs could cause additional issues, as Hooker said they could become a commercial opportunity, with driver information being diluted with advertisements for stores, coffee shops, automakers, insurers, and even bodyshops trying to attract the driver and passengers, he said.

It will all add to a more complex repair environment for body shops, especially when coupling the technology with continued advanced in vehicle construction.

“Multi-material car bodies are emerging and will remain a continuing and rapidly growing theme for 10-20 years, bringing with them a new range of joining techniques and more advanced materials,” Hooker said. 

Multi-material constructions will crash and deform differently than conventional car bodies, and estimators will have to learn to assess damage differently with regular training updates. Hybrid constructions with steel, aluminum and carbon fiber will present a challenge to diagnose, he said.

Powertrain electrification continues. The dominant type will vary from region to region, dependent on incentives and taxation, so car makers are ensuring new car models are compatible with a range of fuel sources and powertrain types,” he said. 

Mild-hybrids will become an inexpensive option for the wider public. Fuel cells are another technology that could play a large role. 

“The repairer will need to know how to safely recognize which system it is with some models having a choice of three or more powertrains, disable these safely, repair and re-initialize,” Hooker said.

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