As we begin a new calendar year, it is important to look at the trends ahead. My focus at LORD is on the OEMs and the regulatory and safety megatrends impacting manufacturing, which in turn effect how the collision industry will/should repair them. In 2018, sustainability, CO2 pipe emissions-fuel economy, as well as electrification and lightweighting (new materials/fastening, joining) driven from regulatory pressures, will all have an impact on vehicle repair and the continued focus on the importance of training. Here is my take on a few of these trends we’ll see more of in 2018:
Lightweighting for Fuel Efficiency
Lightweighting: In 2013, the use of aluminum began to rise in order to reduce weight and improve fuel economy. In response, OEMs began to develop innovative repair procedures to ensure that the collision repair industry understood how to properly repair their vehicles. For example, General Motors launched a new direction in repairing their innovative wheel-area structure on the Cadillac ATS and re-designed CT6 using an “Approved” adhesive using technology (impact resistance) that body shops had never ever seen before. Our own LORD Fusor 2098 was the first adhesive approved, and it led the charge on training as well as pushed the industry to create change and competition, which soon followed. Fast forward to 2018 and lightweighting continues to be a major focus for OEMs in order to meet the new 54.5 mpg fuel efficiency regulation. One way to get there is through manufacturing a Mixed Material Vehicle (MMV). The key materials include aluminum, high strength steels, CFRP (carbon reinforced plastic), and Magnesium. The focus will be on the body and white where Mixed Material usage is estimated to grow approximately 25% by 2025, with aluminum being the fastest growing automotive material. Collision repair professionals will need to understand and follow OEM repair guidelines in order to avoid law suits. Case in point: In 2017, John Eagle Collision Center was found liable for much of the severity of the crash of a 2010 Honda Fit. The shop performed repairs “according to the insurance company,” not based on the OEM procedures costing them $31.5 million dollars. This leads to another interesting trend where OEMs are offering some new options that include insurance.
Increased Subscription Plans at Dealerships
A recent news report noted that subscription plans could become more popular at car dealerships in 2018. These plans bundle maintenance costs, insurance, roadside assistance, vehicle tax and registration into one monthly payment with no long-term requirements. Some OEMs are even offering insurance coverage. This indicates that OEMs are in fact expanding their position in the collision repair industry.
Automated and Connected Vehicle Technologies
The safety megatrend includes a number of focus areas including automated and connected vehicle technologies, which are among the most heavily researched automotive technologies. NHTSA has adopted the SAE International definitions for levels of automation. These definitions divide vehicles into five different levels based on “who does what, when.” i.e. how involved the ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) is in assisting the driver. Connected vehicles use a number of different communication technologies to communicate with the driver, other cars on the road (vehicle-to-vehicle [V2V]), roadside infrastructure (vehicle-to-infrastructure [V2I]), the “Cloud” [V2C], Pedestrians (vehicle-to-Pedestrian [V2P] and the vehicle to everything [v2X]. These emerging technologies will be discussed in detail at the upcoming 2018 Detroit Auto Show, to include a review of PPG’s new coating technology., PPG recently announced a portfolio of advanced coatings that enhance vehicle visibility to light detection and ranging (LIDAR) systems and environmentally-sensitive coatings used to store and transfer energy within lithium ion batteries. As these new safety-related technologies roll out on future vehicles, the repair community will need to be certain their employees understand what each OEM recommends for repair and insure that their employees are adequately trained as this hits the market.
Education Still Important: OEMs continue to pave the way when it comes to innovation and new technology and those who want to stay on top in the collision repair industry need to keep themselves informed and trained by working with industry training providers and product manufacturers to insure their employees make the right decisions. The 2017 John Eagle law suit sums this up and sets yet another trend related to following OEM procedures and training that will likely only increase into 2018 and beyond.
As you venture into 2018, be sure to contact LORD to help you make sense of these trends.
Safety megatrend reference: http://autocaat.org/Technologies/Automated_and_Connected_Vehicles/