Preparing for the Rise of Automated Vehicles

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At the 2017 SEMA Show, autonomous vehicles were a hot topic of discussion. Many autonomous vehicles were displayed throughout the show floor, and various panelists discussed the new, rapidly growing wave of automated technology in the industry.

“There’s been more change in the last five years than probably the 50 before that,” SEMA president Chris Kersting said at a press conference during the show on Nov. 1. 

This past year, SEMA commissioned the Advanced Vehicle Technology Opportunity Study, featuring extensive research on autonomous technology, with help from Ducker Worldwide and the Center for Automotive Research. The intent of the study was to analyze major advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) opportunities for members of the automotive aftermarket going forward.

So, what impact does this data have for your shop? Well, as consumer interest grows and vehicles become more complex, Kaleb Silver, senior product manager for Hunter Engineering, says the growth of ADAS technologies will provide a major shake-up for the automotive aftermarket, and have a major impact on services in collision repair shops, as technicians must also understand how to repair the ever-changing technology within vehicles.

If not, they’ll put drivers everywhere in danger.


The Opportunity Study

Some highlights of the SEMA Advanced Vehicle Technology Opportunity Study include:

  • The aftermarket segment for ADAS in the U.S. is currently a $976 million opportunity, which could grow to $1.51 billion in 2021, a 9.1 percent annual compound growth rate.
  • Electronic content in new vehicles is now greater than 40 percent, and there will be an increased interest in replacing, retrofitting and modifying vehicle electronics systems on all cars.
  • Blind spot warning and passive forward collision avoidance are the two biggest avenues of growth, with an estimated CAGR of 14 percent over the next five years.
  • All vehicles will be fitted with systems by 2023.


The Market

The study states that key drivers in the massive estimated growth to the ADAS market include a decreased price in technology products from original equipment manufacturers, and an increased interest in safety systems among drivers.

Passive systems, which alert or warn a driver to take action to prevent an accident, have the largest presence in the aftermarket currently—but active systems, which overtake driving controls after identifying a potential collision, are growing in popularity and usage.

“While the passive systems may be more prevalent in the current marketplace, the active systems are clearly taking over,” Silver says. “That’s where the industry is going and has to go.”

Safety is the main concern with the implementation of ADAS going forward, the study says. Some of the main systems, like collision warnings, blind spot warnings and lane-departure warnings, have a specific focus on safety and collision avoidance.

Silver says that many newer car commercials have a major focus on using autonomous technology to avoid dangerous situations, like automatic emergency braking (commonly known in the industry as AEB).


The Shop’s Role

Silver says that technicians will need to be able to identify if vehicles are equipped with ADAS and must know the right way to repair these systems when they encounter them.

If ADAS isn’t understood, shops could very well face the consequences: Failure to properly align safety systems can result in dashboard warning lights, steering wheel vibration, vehicle pull or increased steering effort. ADAS can even malfunction or shut down.

“The industry is going to face the challenge of not just tooling up, but having the training and the space for all the different pieces that are required to properly service these vehicles,” Silver says.

For the future of collision repair shops, Silver believes that, while these services may prevent accidents, the accidents that they don’t prevent may be much more severe, and can bring with it a higher ARO.

“Insurance studies have shown having these systems can help prevent accidents, but in the case of an accident can make repair costs even higher than it would have been without the system,” Silver said.

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