Collision repair industry has always been affected in a direct way by what vehicles people drive on the streets of the modern cities. Repair processes are dependent on the colors, type of metal parts used, and, beyond a reasonable doubt, on the safety technology employed.
It is obvious that color shades and various types of special effects influence the refinishing jobs, and the type of steel or, ever-growing usage of aluminum and composites, in car bodies, dictate the panel beating processes. However, I strongly believe that it will be the new technology on collision avoidance that will change our industry the most.
Collision avoidance systems
The opinions about the extent of the technology and its effectiveness vary. Similarly, the automotive experts do not have the same vision on how the collision avoidance technology will affect the repair sector. A number of advanced collision avoidance systems are already introduced, primarily on the luxury vehicles. For example, forward and reverse collision warning, adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation and lane-keeping devices, are all present to certain extant in many car models.
I have recently read the KPMG report on the auto insurance market. It claimed that automotive insurance, and, hence repair market, will almost disappear by 2050. The reason for that is the prediction that there will be no accidents on the roads, mainly because of autonomous technology, which will reduce accidents frequency by 90%! Another research though, from the American Automobile Association revealed that 75% of American drivers are reluctant to use self-driving cars. I think people will not like the idea of being helpless passanger in their own vehicles. Additional aspect to consider is the cyber security. We do not want the possibility of hacked car in the hands of terrorists or criminals. Many issues to consider before removing steering wheel from our cars, don’t you agree?
From my point of view, the reality will be somewhere in the middle. Just like ABS brake technology and ESC (electronic stability system) didn’t prevent the vehicles to crash.Of course, electric vehicles with a sophisticated safety features will hit the roads in the very near future. Buy personally, I doubt that the impact on the everyday number of the road accidents will be that decisive. Growing population and increasing urbanization (by 2030 more than 60% of the population will live in the cities) in combination of the increasing need for commuting, will require more vehicles at affordable price.
The majority of car body repairs will take place in Asia
Most of the automotive sales growth will come from the developing regions of Asia-Pacific and Africa, where the vehicles price will remain a decisive parameter. The cost of the new technology is always high, so probably we won’t see much of it on the millions of cars driven in India or Vietnam. On the flip-side , in Europe and the North America governments already push the legislation towards safer vehicles. Therefore, safety technology will be compulsory in order to get the vehicles on the roads of the Western world.
It is probably all too soon to assume that our industry will disappear within coming decade or two. Yet business will definitely be different. Already main automotive coating companies target the Asia-Pacific regions as the future source for the much needed for the shareholders growth. Vehicles in the not-so-distant future will be full of various sensors, and this will affect the repair process, including the paint film thickness. Increasing use of the aluminum, other non-ferrous alloys and composite materials will cause massive change in body works processes. So, if we get back to the initial question, from this point on, we will repair very sophisticated vehicles made of light-weight materials, powered by the electric engines, and … probably driverless. Let’s wait and see!