With the introduction of electric vehicles and car models that house new technology, the UAE automotive aftermarket must respond with investment in the proper tools and training to ensure the safety of drivers and stay relevant in an evolving market.
This sentiment was echoed during a recent online seminar: ‘Collision Repair Series: Insights on What the Data Trends Are Showing’, hosted by Messe Frankfurt Middle East, organisers of Automechanika Dubai – the largest automotive aftermarket and service industry event in the MEA region. The 18th edition of the show will take place from 14-16 December at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).
Panellist Stephen Louis, a Key Account Manager for Axalta Premium Brands, believes that the industry will face a number of challenges and opportunities in the advent of these changes.
“New technology is going to present the collision repair industry with a lot of challenges, whether that’s for electric vehicles or cars with other features such as assisted driver systems,” he said. “For the most part, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) introduce new models accompanied by the right equipment and training for body shops. But when you look across the general scope of the body shop industry, I think there is a real lack of knowledge, data and understanding.”
And while it will take time for the local market to adapt to the changes, Vishal Pandey, Director at Glasgow Consulting Group, remains bullish on the ability of third-party garages and body shops to adopt tools and training to better service the vehicles.
He said: “What we’ve seen is typically the first two years of service are handled by the OEM. However, this falls off to a third party workshop afterwards. Even smaller insurance companies insist on this. Couple this with the almost double cost of an OEM authorised workshop compared to a premium third-party, and there is a huge opportunity to capitalise on.”
Ultimately, garages and body shops must invest in training and tools to safely and accurately repair newer models entering the market. Due to the increasing use of complex electronics systems to diagnose and repair vehicles, leading to an increase of 10-20 per cent cost to repairs in the collision repair industry, Pandey foresees greater importance placed on customer relations.
“As a result of increased vehicle costs, labour costs for services due to advanced training, and as more and more technology enters the market, there will be improved transparency between body shops and customers. This will materialise in digitised interactions and optimised resource allocation, which will ultimately be a win-win to the customer, insurance company and the garage,” he explained.
Echoing Pandey, fellow panellist Robert Snook, Group Director of MG Cannon, said: “Why wouldn’t you communicate and educate the customer? You’re missing a massive opportunity if you don’t. The collision repair industry relies heavily on trust, and it is the duty of the body shop to position themselves as the expert in the understanding of the technology and in turn, showcase the skills and capabilities required that will allow the customer to trust in you and your technicians automatically.”
Louis added: “We are in a world of increasing costs and increasing regulation with quality and service being demanded by customers. Above all, body shops will, by default, always look to be as efficient as possible and use the best available equipment, materials and training. I think if you commit to all of these, you will have a good business.”
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