THATCHAM Research has called for vehicle manufacturers to work with the repair industry in order to stop the rapid increase in costs.
The average vehicle repair bill has risen to £1,678, which is a 32 per cent increase over the last three years, and there are now worries surrounding core repair challenges such as Adas (advanced driver assistance systems), new materials and a lack of skills.
Peter Shaw, CEO of Thatcham Research, highlighted the problem of rising repair costs as Adas technologies become more prominent in the industry.
‘The average repair bill has risen by 32 per cent over the last three years,’ said Shaw. ‘This has been driven by the repairability of parts such as headlamps, increasing complexity of vehicle materials and technology and the rising cost of spare parts, influenced to some extent by currency fluctuations. Vehicle manufacturers must bring these costs under control.
‘The cost for windscreen-mounted Adas calibration spans from £0 to £700 – across car manufacturers and often across similar sensors and technology. This is unacceptable. Unless urgently addressed, these costs will challenge the current model of a no-claims bonus being unaffected by a windscreen repair or replacement.’
Another issue that Thatcham says requires addressing is the different material specification in new cars. Thomas Hudd, operations manager at the Thatcham Repair Technology Centre, said: ‘The rising use of a mix of new materials in modern cars is leading to more intrusive repairs. This means that where we were once able to partially replace a panel, we now need to replace it in its entirety. This is especially true of aluminium panels, which are challenging the repair industry as it is stiffer and harder to reshape than steel.’
These complex challenges mean UK bodyshops need high-calibre individuals who see the repair industry as a potential career path. Dean Lander, head of repair sector services at Thatcham Research, said: ‘There is still much to be done to ensure that the right people choose a career in this industry. Repairers need a new set of skills to meet the demands of the bodyshop of the future.
‘Technical expertise in diagnostics and calibration has become as vital as expertise in repairing and refinishing the physical hardware of a car. We must portray a fresh image to recruit the right people and help them to develop these new skills for bodyshops, as well as developing leadership skills to aid long-term retention.’