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UD Trucks 2

The bell rings at 9 am and the world’s industry movers and shakers take their place for the grand opening of the summit inside a huge convention centre at the Hilton Munich Park Hotel in Germany. With an absolute sell-out to the world’s key players in many diverse areas of the business in attendance this two-day intensive think tank on key areas of activity will see a host of specialist speakers strut their stuff.

The CEO of IBIS, Jason Mosely takes care of the welcome and house rules as the delegates settle down for the first presentation as Paul Steele, sales director – DACH, TrustPilot, hovers in the wings.

The first presentation of the day is on the subject of ‘Can the customer make a difference?’ He started out by saying that in the world today over a third of the car buying public now do it online in order to get a better deal. It is happening more than ever before,and dealers are looking to increase conversion rates on the internet for the online buyers by using elements of trust and keeping their eye on the content to build credibility for their services. The car buying public will visit less and less dealerships for their proposed purchase and the worry is what will happen to the front line staff at dealerships inside their million-a-month rented showrooms across the world as we know it today.

Steve Young, managing direcotr of ICDP, introduced a talk on ‘What’s behind the numbers? from his cross-industry consulting company. He took a look as far as 2030 where Europe will see around €45billion being developed by collision repair concerns while the projected turnover of mechanical repair shops would be more than double that at €130billion. Motor parts turnover will be around €75billion as car parc numbers increase across Europe and particularly in Italy.

Accident rates are predicted to drop by some 27% in the future as driver safety legislation powers ahead. This has also been the primary cause of increased technology in cameras and body construction which add to early graves for the modern car. On a sort of weird bright spot for accident counters in body shop businesses, was the fact that drivers using their mobile phones and the distracting infotainment devices are a major cause of accidents right now. So the decline in crash rates is not yet at levels where the safety conscious brigade would like them to be.

Along with all of this is a clear indication that vehicles were lasting longer, but a recent award of $42million for a poor Honda repair in the US was a clear indicator of how a poor quality repair could impact on a body shop’s activities.

Andrew Marsh, director, Auto Industry Insider, is no stranger to our readers. He set out his theories on the chaos that exists from manufacturers as well the implementation of camera safety technologies as he counted down each motor makers idea of the perfect car. 3D cameras, night vision cameras, ultrasound, dead reckoning sensors, short range radar, long range radar and other Lidar sensors that are now embedded in new vehicles.

Andrew in his charismatic dotty professor approach then told a fairly baffled audience how the VW Vas approach was used to realign all this stuff to pre-accident condition with the correct wheel alignment equipment.

He then moved on to the Nissan Micra CMOS function camera calibration which was completely different in every way with its own targets, wall mounted while static, while downloading the app was vital in putting the car together properly state by stage. With giant steps forward predicted in new methodologies in accident avoidance systems evolution and powering ahead with lane departure warnings soon to be mandated in Europe for heavy duty vehicles. The further introduction of auto brake standards for bus makers – all to be made into safety laws – inside the EU by September this year, as the future trends arrive ever sooner.

He says that it looks that by around 2030 self calibration will become the order of the day within the three distinct technology groups. Having said that, there are plenty of unknowns that lie ahead as the tsunami wave of new electronic technology washes over the traditional standards of repair that we know today.

So the message is quite a clear one. Repairers have to now embrace new electronics, software systems, networks, big data and strive to meet new commercial partners and invest in staff and training accordingly.

*Andrew will be the keynote speaker in South Africa at the Cape Auto Forum show in October sponsored by the CRA and Automotive Refinisher, so save the date for a great trade day out.

After the Hilton chefs had weaved a bit more magic for lunch, every one headed back for the important afternoon session, when the future of mobility from Dirk Utman senior manager consultant, risk advisory, automotive Deloitte and Philipp Enderle, came under the spotlight with their strategic view of the next decade in all things automotive..

It’s specialised sector spans 150 countries in America, EMEA and Asia-Pacific and Deloitte offer an end-to-end package for their corporate customers right from business growth, operational excellence, finance, digital, technology and people.

The problem now is a number of disruptive forces which are  challenging the traditional business model because of the speed of change with major differences coming in urban mobility. Some companies are offering full service leasing and multi-brand fleet portfolios with a number of new players emerging where key enablers for electric and autonomous vehicles were revealed and with drivers moving to increased vehicle sharing and motor makers moving down the value chain to keep their place with the customer.

A panel discussion between Frank Liu CEO of Fix Auto China and Michael Whilmshurst, chief executive of Nationwide Accident Repair Services, took centre stage to discuss various growth scenarios in their respective markets in the body shop repair operational side.

All of them have to push hard in every area to keep profits in their right order. Fix Auto have over 40 operations up and running in China said Liu, whilst Whilmshurst said that repairs had to be carried out and completed at reasonable costs.

In China with 4 000 body shops currently trading, Liu said there is always a big need to keep up to speed on delivery times quoted, while Whilmshurst said that the average UK cost per vehicle to repair was approximately £26 000 to repair in total.

*Read all about day two and the challenges facing our industry in our next edition.