Thatcham Research calls for action

Thatcham Research has delivered a call to action for vehicle manufacturers to urgently engage with the repair industry to halt spiralling costs.

Thatcham Research claims with the average repair bill rising by nearly 32% in the last three years to £1,678, concerns are mounting around core repair challenges encompassing ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems), new materials and a lack of skills.

Peter Shaw, Thatcham Research CEO said, ‘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.’

The average cost to replace a windscreen increases significantly with the fitment of ADAS technologies such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB). For example, a windscreen replacement for a Ford Focus with ADAS can increase by 123%, when estimated calibration costs are factored in. Costs for a VW Golf meanwhile, can increase by 78%. Thatcham Research estimates that there are over two million cars on the roads today with standard-fit AEB systems (equating to 5% of the UK car parc), and with the systems set to be more prevalent over coming years, this issue will only continue to grow.

The increase in different material specification has also come under the spotlight. Thomas Hudd, operations manager at the Thatcham Research 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.’

Thatcham Research lists the top five repair challenges as: ADAS systems; complexity; paint and panels; headlamps; and electrified power trains.

All of this complexity creates a further challenge for UK bodyshops today – attracting high calibre individuals who see the repair industry as a career destination. ‘There is still much to be done to ensure that the right people choose a career in this industry,’ commented Dean Lander, head of repair sector services at Thatcham Research. ‘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.’