The Future of Collision Repair
The number of registered vehicles in the US has steadily risen over the years and is currently at an estimated 253 million. It’s safe to say the future of the collision repair industry is looking bright; not only for body shops, but for industry training education and the job security of technicians.
As our world becomes more advanced, so do our vehicles. The introduction of new technologies and ways to manufacture vehicles, forces all aspects of the industry to adapt in order to serve the new vehicles that come out every year. As the complexity of vehicles increase, collision repair shops will have to invest time and money into training, factory certifications, and special equipment designed to help repair these vehicles.
The technology in vehicles is quickly becoming more advanced and profound. A few years ago, it was uncommon to find an LCD or touch screen monitor in a car; now it’s the norm in most new luxury vehicles including all Tesla models.
Speaking of Tesla, the all-electric vehicle is becoming a trend and will see an increase in production in coming years. The high certification costs and expensive repair process is a turn off for most collision repair shops to become a Tesla certified for repairs, but someone has to do it.
Tesla’s not the only electric vehicle on the road. Just about every car manufacturer in the world has developed an electric vehicle. Although they are not immediately sweeping the nation in popularity, electric vehicles replace the need for oil which has been an on-going issue for years.
Electric and hybrid vehicles will all require some type of certification to ensure a safe and proper repair. Body shops will have to make a decision of whether to rely on the large amount of older vehicles on the road or accept the technological change that’s having an effect on the industry. Considering the average car on the road is 11.4 years old, body shops shouldn’t have to worry about having to adapt too fast.
In a press release, John Van Alstyne, CEO and president of I-CAR said, “As an industry we are beginning to see a ‘tsunami’ of new vehicles, new technologies and new materials – like aluminum, magnesium, carbon fiber and advanced high-strength steels.”
Aluminum has been the most common material integrated into new vehicles because of its lack of weight. With lighter materials, vehicles will see an increase in gas mileage and overall fuel efficiency. Other materials that body shops will have to get used to working with include magnesium, carbon fiber, and advanced high strength steels. Again, more certifications and factory equipment will need to be obtained to be able to produce quality repairs.
Body shops won’t be the only ones that will have to be trained learning the ins-and-outs of the future vehicles. Firefighters and emergency responders are already being trained to know their way around the high voltage batteries that pose a dangerous threat after an accident. According to Al Thomas, the department head of Repair at Pennsylvania College of Technology, “High voltage batteries (300 volt or more, depending on the vehicle) can kill a technician who has not disarmed the high voltage system properly.”
The collision repair industry isn’t going anywhere, but it is evolving and body shops all across the nation will have to adjust to new industry standards and certification requirements to stay up to date on all new vehicles.