Takeaways to Repair a Vehicle over its Life Cycle

April 24, 2019
Susanna Gotsch, director, industry analyst, shares her insights into the 2019 CCC Crash Course Report.

I own my car. I insure my car. I drive my car.

That’s the lifecycle of a car for a consumer, but in today’s age, this cycle is getting more complex. Vehicles are on the market and on roads with more telematics and complex materials forming the structure of the vehicle, from high and medium strength steel, aluminum, carbon fiber and magnesium.

The recently released 2019 CCC Information Services Crash Course Report explored some of the questions that occur throughout those steps, including providing data to understand the framework of where the collision repairer and the consumer are today.

Susanna Gotsch, CCC’s director and industry analyst, says the report highlighted the need for repairers to stay current on information about the vehicles they’re repairing, the tools needed to repair the vehicles and the training required.

As more vehicles are equipped with ADAS, early data suggests the industry will start to see a reduction in crash rates, according to the CCC report. Gotsch says that, while the picture gets “murky” in terms of what the industry will see in terms of frequency within the next 3–5 years, nothing indicates the need for the collision repair industry to evaporate overnight.

“For people who think they may know how to repair a certain type of car, it’s even more important for them to stay up to date on those types of vehicles,” she says.

Even if a technician thinks he or she knows how to repair a certain car because it was repaired by them just two months ago, they still need to research the repair. Because a car that was repaired just two months ago could have had software updated via an over-the-air update, Gotsch explains.

In light of the new report, FenderBender took a closer look at the findings and outlines the main takeaways for a shop owner.

Takeaway No. 1: The industry needs to stay abreast of any changes in the vehicles.

Collision repairers can not only educate themselves in the repair, but also educate the consumers, Gotsch says. For consumers, there are websites like mycardoeswhat.org, in which the driver can look up what his or her vehicle does with its advanced features. This website was formed by the University of Iowa with the National Safety Council to help consumers understand what type of features are being introduced today in automobiles and how the technology should work. The repairer could refer the customer to the website for future questions.

And, a shop operator can refer customers to the OEM’s website as well.

With the changes in vehicle telematics, and the ability for a manufacturer to perform software updates over the air, Gotsch says it is vital that shop operators do not assume they know how to repair a certain type of vehicle because they might have “just” repaired it a few months ago.

Takeaway No. 2: Telematics is shifting how the car is repaired.

A customer buys a car, owns it, and then insures it. If the customer gets into an accident, he or she can call the insurance company and find their next steps. Now, with the introduction of telematics into vehicles, customers are rethinking, and not necessarily carrying out, the last step.

With the introduction of car telematics, including diagnostic trouble codes, photo analytics and more sensors, cars are capable of sending data right from the vehicle to the collision repair shop to make repairs faster.

 According to the report, shops need to adopt innovation as early as possible, in order to learn and get it right as promptly as possible. Nearly all automakers are looking to expand the services offered via connected car technology, and as they expand those touchpoints, they could ultimately look to provide insurance services.

Today, vehicle telematics and other crash-detection analytics can automatically identify when an accident occurs, sharing the accident information directly with the OE and/or insurer, triggering vehicle routing and preferred method of inspection. In the future, more data from the vehicle itself could be collected and sent to the OE and/or insurer to identify potential repair amount, and which type of repairer is best suited based on the vehicle itself.

Takeaway No. 3: One of the most promising outcomes of ADAS is the potential to avoid certain accidents and reduce the severity of accidents.

Not every shop is qualified to do every repair, whether that is a split between lighter hits and heavier hits, split between vehicle type or between electric and standard, Gotsch notes.

“I think it’s an individual assessment made by each shop,” she says.

Shops are driven by the type of vehicles they see in the shop and by volume. In the future, Gotsch predicts there will be a shift to an independent collision repair shop adding a role for hybrid, mechanical-collision repair technician instead of shops leaning toward specializing in one type of vehicle.

 Vehicle telematics and other crash-detection analytics can automatically identify when an accident occurs, sharing the accident information directly with the OE and/or insurer, triggering vehicle routing and preferred method of inspection. In the future more data will come from the vehicle itself, such as damage area, triggered diagnostic trouble codes, according to the report.

Takeaway No. 4: While ADAS and improved vehicle safety are helping to reduce fatalities and injuries of occupants, until features like pedestrian airbags are standard, non-occupants’ share of crashes may continue to trend higher.

Vehicle fatalities outside of the vehicle have continued to rise due to impaired driving, congestion and urbanization, and that number includes pedestrians or bicyclists outside the vehicle. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has found that, as more consumers switch to trucks like pickups, the likelihood of a passenger hitting his or head on the front of the vehicle is more likely. In Europe and other places, there’s been a lot of desire to design the vehicle in such a way that if the vehicle senses a pedestrian, it is designed to stop but if it also doesn’t stop, the design releases a hood in a way that catches the pedestrian as they come up and over the hood of the vehicle, Gotsch says. Some manufacturers with this technology now include Volvo and Honda.

A comparison of motor vehicle fatality composition from CY 2008 to CY 2017 reveals non-occupant fatalities increased from 14 percent to 19 percent, while passenger car occupant fatalities fell from 39 percent to 36 percent, light-truck occupant fatalities fell from 29 percent to 27 percent, and motorcycle fatalities were flat, according to the report.

Takeaway No. 5: Tariffs increased the average repair order in 2018.

Tariffs on car materials and features led to a 47 percent increase in the average repair order in 2018.

Some 10 percent of the tariff was applied across the board in 2018, Gotsch says, and if the countries in the North American Free Trade Agreement (the agreement among the U.S., Canada and Mexico formed in 1989 to eliminate tariffs, duties and quantitative restrictions on most products) cannot come to an agreement and it increases to 25 percent, then that could potentially increase the average repair order passed onto the industry (assuming the full 10 percent has been passed on to the consumer).

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