BMW April 2022

To understand the increasing influence of automotive OEMs in the collision industry, you need look no further than the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Association of Global Automakers statement on the use of OEM repair procedures. Wayne Weikel, senior director of government affairs for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, stated the following: “There was a time when a basic understanding of auto body repair would allow a repairer to fix nine out of 10 vehicles that come into a shop. That time has now passed.” Safety is among an automaker’s top priorities and this includes not only new vehicles rolling out of the factory, but also ensuring that vehicles are repaired properly – and safely after a collision.
Convenience and safety features are the primary influences for many consumers when purchasing a new vehicle. They view new vehicle technology as a way to stay connected, and Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) features such as lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring and automatic emergency braking reduce safety concerns if they become distracted while driving. Approximately 90% of all auto accidents are caused by human error, and drivers and passengers expect these features to keep them safe and work properly every time.
Automotive OEMs are only at the beginning of a cultural shift in the way society views mobility. ADAS is the first step towards autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, connected vehicles, shared mobility and cybersecurity. To remain competitive, it is imperative for automakers to develop innovative technology, but they also need to build consumer trust in their technology.
What is the impact of this technology for repairers, and have the OEMs considered the repair process as they forge ahead with this cultural shift? New safety technology will reduce the number of accidents, but additional electronics and sensors in these safety features will also increase the complexity and cost to properly repair the vehicle.
Although most collision repairs are completed by independent collision centres, automakers take repair process seriously not only to ensure safety, but also to build trust in the technology and brand loyalty. It has long been known that more than 60% of vehicle owners will sell their vehicle after a collision, and if they had a poor repair experience, more than 60% of those will switch vehicle brands. Whether vehicle technology is functioning properly after a collision repair is a major influence on customer satisfaction for the collision centre, dealer and OEM. As previously mentioned, consumers have come to rely on and trust the ADAS features on their vehicles and expect them to work properly every time, even after a collision repair. A 2019 IHS Markit survey conducted for Toyota found that the No. 1 influence on brand loyalty is the collision repair experience.
These factors are the driving force behind OEM collision networks. It is imperative that shop owners recognise how quickly the industry is shifting and adjust their business plans and processes to adapt to the “new normal.”
Today’s vehicle repairs are more complex because OEM repair procedures must be researched and followed. They require specialised diagnostic and multi-material tools and processes, system calibrations and the knowledge to properly repair and ensure all vehicle systems are operating correctly before returning the vehicle to the owner. COVID-19 has also impacted how we repair vehicles by how we protect our employees, work with insurance providers and meet new customer expectations for sanitation and a touchless experience.
Although every OEM certification programme has its own specific set of requirements, they all include four basic areas of focus: repair procedures, equipment, knowledge and process.
1. The only way to properly repair a vehicle today is by researching and following the OEM repair procedures for every repair. A vehicle may look the same as the previous year’s model, but the only way to know if an OEM has made changes to the underlying structure, substrates, bonding processes, etc. is by researching the current OEM repair procedure.
2. New technology, substrates and electronics may require the specialised equipment to properly complete a repair safely.
3. It is also important that everyone in the collision centre has the knowledge required to provide the vehicle owner with a safe and proper repair. Training is required for all positions so that a complete repair blueprint can be created, trust can be developed, expectations set with the customer and technicians have repair procedures and knowledge of tools and equipment required to complete a proper, safe repair.
4. Collision centres must also have processes in place to ensure the entire repair process is completed properly and safely in a timely fashion while keeping the customer informed and providing a touchless and frictionless experience.
Most OEMs are building repair networks to ensure that all of their customers have the opportunity to have their vehicle properly repaired by an OEM certified collision centre. However, they also realise that they do not need every collision centre to be part of their network and those that are continuing to maintain the OEM standards and investments required to be part of the network expect an ROI on that investment. While the OEMs are building their networks, shops may question the value.
However, once they are built, the OEMs will leverage the network to provide more value for the shop, vehicle owner and the OEM itself. Telematics provide OEMs with INOL (Instant Notice of Loss). Connected vehicles know when a collision occurs and can contact first responders using artificial intelligence immediately. They can also arrange a tow truck and rental car, provide a recommendation to an OEM-certified repair centre and notify the insurance carrier. Once OEM-certified networks are large enough to serve the market, OEMs will be able to utilise telematics to recommend certified collision centres through INOL.
As shop owners position themselves for these changes and begin aligning with OEM-certified networks, it’s important to understand your market and business to determine which OEM programme will bring the most value. How can you increase the value of these certifications today? Your main areas of focus should be repair planning, OEM repair procedures, dealer relationships, marketing of your OEM certifications, your advanced training and a touchless customer experience.
OEMs are also aligning with insurers, and companies like Toyota, Ford, Tesla and others have begun to offer OEM branded insurance to vehicle owners. These policies may require usage of OEM parts, repairs completed by a shop in the OEM-certified network and the utilisation of telematics to provide Usage- Based Insurance (UBI). As vehicles continue to increase their connectivity, it will be imperative for OEMs and repairers to address cybersecurity in the repair process. This is a new aspect of customer safety that is coming fast.
If you are a shop owner reading this article, start taking steps to prepare for how the future of OEM influence and certification will change the way you run your business. Do not wait until things have evolved too far beyond your present capabilities and miss the opportunity to join an OEM network that will help bring consistent business to your shop. Mobility is the future of this industry, and it is imperative to keep up with the changes as they come. Keep in touch with your reps and technical experts and ask questions about how to set yourself up for long-term success and remain competitive in your market.