Vehicles today are lighter, smarter and safer than ever before. Repairing these new vehicles has become increasingly complex as they contain advanced technology that often requires specific training and tools for replacing or repairing parts. In addition, the automotive industry has been largely impacted by the global pandemic, with direct consequences being raised prices due to inflation and a labor shortage, as well as fewer vehicles being produced due to the global chip shortage.

These challenges have made it more difficult for managers to replenish their fleets, requiring them to maintain their vehicles longer and leading to higher repair and maintenance costs. At the same time, businesses looking to electrify their fleet, are also met with the challenge of managing a diverse fleet and finding suitable repairers for each vehicle.

In this blog, we've highlighted three ways in which digitalisation and smart matchmaking can help you save time and costs while finding the best repair solution for every unique damage.

Added layers of complexity

Let’s take a closer look at the different factors leading to complexity in the automotive repair industry, and how they affect costs and cycle times.

Advanced driver assistance systems

While ADAS can be very useful in keeping drivers safe, repairing these systems can become very complicated and expensive. Bumpers for example can house a variety of ADAS equipment such as parking sensors, impact sensors and front radars. When any part that houses ADAS components needs repair, complicated procedures need to be respected, for example when a front radar is removed and reinstalled, an alignment will need to be performed as well as careful calibration to ensure that the ADAS functions safely and correctly. The extra steps in the repair process for vehicles equipped with ADAS will of course add to costs as well as the duration of repair.

Electric vehicles and lightweight materials

Statistics gathered from several large repair chains in the Netherlands and Belgium indicate that repairs of electric vehicles (EVs) are on average 30% more costly than repairs of conventional ones. This is because EVs are more dependent on lightweight materials, often include ADAS, and house an expensive (and potentially dangerous) battery, which when damaged is highly costly to replace, as most batteries cannot be repaired locally. As a result, the total cycle time of repairing EVs is often longer compared to ICE vehicles, as it is harder to find a body repair shop certified to repair EVs.

Traditionally, a car’s bodywork used to be exclusively made of steel sheet metal. Now, each vehicle contains a different mixture of lightweight composite materials, such as high-strength steel and aluminium alloys. The costs of repairing or replacing lightweight materials are higher compared to iron or steel sheet metal. This is due to the relatively high raw material prices and manufacturing costs.

Original equipment manufacturing parts

OEMs are making exclusive components with every new edition they release, and in doing so, increase the need for repairers to use original (more expensive) parts. Each vehicle is built uniquely, using a variety of materials and including different technology. Even parts as small as screws can vary. When repairing a relatively new vehicle, repairers can no longer rely on a third-party aftermarket part to fit the vehicle perfectly or be compatible with a potential ADAS.

Three ways to speed up the process and reduce costs

While it seems inevitable that the cycle times and costs of repairing advanced vehicles will continue to increase, fleets can look at new ways to optimise the process.

1. Individual damage assessment and handling

The very first step in limiting cycle times is to assess and handle each damage individually, instead of treating all damages similarly. When handling car damage, fleet managers can benefit by knowing the technical specifications of the vehicles in their fleet. This might sound like more work, but when managers start keeping track of the technical specifications of the vehicles in their fleet, they can better pre-assess each damage that comes in. Doing so enables them to have a better understanding of what is needed and allows them to allocate more quickly based on the needs of that specific repair.

2. Identification of the suitable body repair shop

If managers know which body repair shop is most suitable for the job, the repair can be assigned more accurately and will often be completed faster. Repairers who are specialised in certain materials, types of damage, repair methods, or makes can perform the repair more efficiently than those who are not. In addition, there is much to gain when taking the availability of suitable repairers into account to narrow down the search for the right body repair shop further. In addition, OEM certified repair shops often have access to the procedures and diagnostic equipment necessary to perform repairs quickly and correctly.

3. Automation and elimination of non-essential tasks

Leveraging the expertise in a repairer network and comparing different options is a great way to lower repair costs for fleets. But you can imagine that this can become quite challenging quickly, without the help of technology; especially when managing a large, diverse, or mobile fleet.

By digitalising the repair handling process, fleets can streamline workflows and eliminate redundant tasks. With a suitable digital solution, managers can work more efficiently than ever before. Instead of spending time on back and forth phone calls or emails, everything can be communicated quickly, clearly, efficiently, and often with just a click of a button.

At Fixico, we ensure that every repair ends up in a workshop that is not only best equipped to perform the repair but also has the optimal conditions. With the assistance of a comprehensive digital solution, managers can speed up the process tremendously. Our data shows that in the last year alone, fleets that have used Fixico's platform have reduced their total repair costs by 28.4%, and their total cycle times by 34.6%.

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