Adam Lovelock, Director of replacement division UK & Ireland, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, looks at trends in vehicle repair
Car technology is evolving incredibly quickly as manufacturers introduce hardware and software to improve the driving experience and assist motorists. The introduction of such technologies has led to a decrease in the severity of accidents, and claims involving the latest vehicles are declining. However, repair length and complexity are rising, along with costs.
The collision repair market is moving less rapidly, and this is partly due to demand. As the average privately-owned car driven in the UK is around eight years old, many vehicle repairers will only occasionally be required to handle a vehicle with the latest technology.
As a result, this issue has so far only largely impacted large fleet owners like rental car companies – businesses with vehicles that are on average less than 12 months old.
Rental companies in particular are repairing their vehicles all the time, and we’re learning that technology brings challenges as well as benefits.
Drive assist systems, on-board computers and other technology features of newer cars, many of which are proprietary to specific manufacturers, have left many body shop mechanics scratching their heads when a vehicle turns up for repair.
Enterprise’s heritage in the collision repair market is that we are one of the biggest providers of replacement vehicles to body shop and insurance customers, as well as offering a number of bespoke software products.
As our fleet is one of the largest in the world, and our vehicles are on average only 10-12 months old, we’re also one of the largest repairers of the latest models featuring the newest innovations.
We’re rethinking our vehicle repair strategy and networks to ensure they are still effective in an increasingly automated and digital age, in order to manage down repair times and contain claims costs. That means working with our repair network to identify areas of expertise and using our software to provide a knowledge system and decision support.
So when today’s car of the future gets damaged, we can send it to the right repairer at the right time, ensuring that the repair is right first time. This mitigates unnecessary cost inflation.
We’ve been able to share this knowledge and experience with our repairer partners, helping them to develop their skills base. Manufacturers often work with us as a ‘shop front’ for testing and showcasing emerging technologies. This was the case with electric vehicles and will be the same for future innovations.
Enterprise is now also a knowledge centre for the repair of new high-tech vehicles, and this is something we can use to benefit our partners in the industry. It is another way that we can support insurers and brokers in ensuring motor claims are handled as efficiently as possible.