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European Collision Repair Leaders Discuss Market Differences During Automechanika

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FRANKFURT, Germany, Sept. 19, 2014—Representatives from several European countries presented key collision repair market data from their respective industries on Friday during Automechanika, highlighting similarities and differences in European markets.

The presentations took place during the International Congress held in Frankfurt. The data presented was included in the Collision Damage Management study conducted by the University of Bremen’s Institute for Education and Technology.

To begin, Karin Volpato of Fundacion Laboral del Metal discussed market data from Spain. With a vehicle park of 28.79 million, Volpato reported an average of roughly 4.3 million damaged vehicles annually with an average repair order of 1,089 Euros. Volpato said the study showed that the market is made up of 87 percent independent workshops and 12.3 percent dealers. As for insurance involvement, Volpato said that the six insurers leading market share (out of nearly 300 insurance companies total) are heavily involved in the repair process.

Volpato said that the main challenges facing Spanish body shops are an aging population with few young people looking to enter the skilled manual workforce, and scarce training offerings. Volpato said that there is no formal educational system providing auto body curriculum in Spain.

Next, Mihneva Galina of the Gabrovska Chamber of Commerce and Industry provided insight into the Bulgarian collision repair market. Of a vehicle park of 2.86 million, a total of 708,980 damaged cars were reported in 2013 at an average repair cost of 500 Euros. Galina said five major insurance companies make up the market and involvement in the repair process is limited.

Galina said the biggest issues facing the Bulgarian market are an older vehicle fleet (57 percent of vehicles are more than 15 years old and 1 in 4 are more than 20 years old) and non-existent statutory regulations regarding body shops. Galina reported that out out of an estimated 50,000 shops in Bulgaria, the majority exist illegally.

Willy Sprockel, advisor at FOWCA, reported a vehicle park of 8 million in the Netherlands, 100 percent of which are insured. Sprockel also reported an average repair cost of 1,200 Euros and cited numerous positive aspects of the market, including a long history of body repair education, vocational training and body shop management training.

In contrast, Thomas Bremen said that there were no associations for auto body repair in Sweden and little way to keep up with new procedures and processes. Bremen said this is especially critical for service advisors, who conduct all estimates since Swedish insurance companies do not employ independent claims appraisers. Bremen also said the study found a vehicle park of 4.5 million and 630,000 reported damaged vehicles in 2013 at an average repair cost of 1,500 Euros. He also reported that dealer shops and MSOs outnumber independent body shops in the country.

Finally, Peter Borner, president of the Federation of the German Motor Vehicle Trade, reported on the future of independent collision shops in Germany. Borner said that insurance involvement remains very low in Germany. Of 7.9 million damage claims in 2013, only 700,000 were actively managed by insurance companies. Bremen said that although repair order numbers are increasing, the number of claims have steadily decreased in recent years. And while he noted that Germany has a long history of apprenticeships and vocational education, qualification and accreditation is still needed.

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