Car producers are becoming too caught up inside the race to release new technology and are not giving sufficient thought to, or steerage on, reparability, consistent with industry specialists.

This is resulting in extended costs and downtime for fleets, and, in some cases, automobiles being written-off when they have to be reparable.

Long car off-avenue instances may also have implications for gain-in-type tax.

Richard Billyeald, leader technical officer at Thatcham Research, said cars are being delivered to marketplace without strategies of repair being released. In one instance, repair techniques had been nevertheless no longer available six months after a car’s release.

“Inevitably there’s large competition within the car marketplace and generation is shifting so rapid it’s far inside the pastimes of the auto producers to provide new capabilities as fast as viable. They’re constantly attempting to complete with their near rivals but, if there’s no person maintaining a check on it, then such things as reparability can lose their significance,” he said.

Terry Gibson, head of member services on the Independent Garage Association, stated it changed into “not unusual” for restore methods no longer to be to be had from launch, despite the fact that the difficulty changed into reducing over time.

However, even as it wouldn’t be a main problem for independents wearing out simple repairs, it may potentially postpone crash maintenance in which a bodyshop would not continue with out a restore method, he introduced.

Thatcham wants to positioned reparability “lower back on the time table” this year, starting with tackling “useless” problems, specifically with electric cars (EVs), stated Billyeald.

“You may have a extraordinarily minor parking impact in which you might have performed a chunk of damage to the bumper or a number of the panels –hitting a bollard, for instance – and that then trips the fuse within the battery which then calls for you to dispose of the battery and to reset it. Suddenly a £1,000 claim will become an £8,000 claim – simply pointless,” he stated.

The cost of changing batteries in EVs also can suggest that a vehicle becomes uneconomical to restore, even though the equal would certainly be real must a diesel or petrol engine require changing.

Billyeald said that at the same time as the battery will no longer be damaged in each effect, while harm does arise, the battery has to get replaced “in quite lots each case”, unlike an engine.

“It very lots depends on whether it is a hybrid or a full EV however the (battery) price range is £6,000 up to £30,000,” he said, the fee differential ranging from, as an example, a Nissan Leaf to a long-variety Tesla.

In evaluation, it would normally price between £5,000 and £10,000 to fit a new inner combustion engine (ICE).

The bigger trouble comes with the need to disconnect the battery when sporting out maintenance, a scenario skilled these days with the aid of Zip Water fleet supervisor Graham Short.

“I had a Volkswagen Golf GTE in which the driver stuck the wheel arch on a publish; it become minor harm,” Short said. “It went into an coincidence repairer and that they stated ‘it’s were given to go to VW to have the battery disconnected’. We needed to ebook it in with VW, who couldn’t do it for more than every week. The car went in, the battery become disconnected and it changed into transported again to the bodyshop for the repair to be accomplished. Then bet what? It had to be added returned to VW to be reconnected. The vehicle changed into off the road for about months only for minor harm.”

A Volkswagen spokesperson was “unable to comment” on Short’s enjoy but said that around 98% of its supplier community can repair an EV and can deactivate the high voltage system, if it isn’t damaged.

If damaged, this will need the assistance of a consultant from certainly one of 15 store-primarily based battery repair web sites or Volkswagen’s technical provider centre in Milton Keynes.

The centres were installation to finish more complicated battery restore strategies using the brand new diagnostic gadget and enormously-skilled Volkswagen technicians (called high voltage professionals).

Volkswagen said that if the batteries are bodily damaged then maximum might want to be replaced but every repair is treated on a case-through-case basis.

The spokesperson added that restore methods are available at launch for each new version.

Short has additionally experienced troubles with parts availability – a trouble that can grow to be greater enormous inside the occasion of a no-deal Brexit.

“We had a Nissan e-NV200 hit at the same time as parked,” Short stated. “It become no longer a large repair, but the van changed into off the road for the same duration of time because the components should most effective be procured from Japan.”

A Nissan spokesperson stated: “Supply of components for EV fashions is similar to every other ICE vehicle. We can experience pressure factors, as do all producers, however we inspire dealers to notify us of instances concerning vehicles off the street in order that they can be prioritised.”

On the issue of EV reparability, “each Nissan provider have to be able to diagnose, service and restore electric powered vehicles”, the spokesperson said, and “relying at the diagnoses, battery functioning may be re-established via replacing person modules, the battery casing or the entire battery”.

Checking EV battery health, in the meantime, is “a honest 5-minute operation with the Consult diagnostic device used by Nissan sellers across Europe”.

Service and restore manuals are “posted on the start of sales and updated often as required”, introduced the spokesperson.

While franchised sellers can be equipped to restore electric powered automobiles, it’s far “more tough” for independents and the smaller bodyshops to spend money on schooling and system, in step with Billyeald.

“If they’ve were given to buy equipment to cover all of the producers that’s a massive ask,” he stated.

This ought to potentially depart fleet operators with much less preference approximately where their cars are repaired – figures from the FN50 display round 23% of leased motors and 33% of leased trucks are repaired through unbiased workshops, which might be normally cheaper than franchised dealers.

However, Gibson stated: “More and more impartial garages are embarking on education their technicians to service and repair hybrid and electric cars.

“This safeguards the enterprise due to the potential dangers related to the high voltages inside these cars and additionally offers them with business possibilities, differentiating them from neighborhood competitors.”

Fleet Assist, which presents leasing and condo agencies with a community of five,000-plus franchised and impartial carrier retailers, stated that “honestly all” have the functionality to provider and restore hybrid and plug-in cars.

Halfords Autocentres has trained 357 of its 1,500 technicians to IMI Level 2 in electric powered/hybrid car renovation, enabling it to provider motors across its network of 316 autocentres.

Pete Marden, fleet director, said: “This education offers our technicians the self belief to paintings on those sorts of automobiles and get right of entry to fault prognosis to consist of battery overall performance through our Bosch KTS device.

“In July we brought a brand new bespoke Halfords Hybrid Service provide to our clients. To date we’ve got completed over 1,six hundred such offerings, round 1% of the total wide variety of services over this period. This is above the share of penetration of electrical automobiles in the market location so is proving a very a hit alternative to the OEM provider network for our customers.

“In the following economic yr (April 2019 – April 2020) we plan to add the IMI Level 3 award in electric/hybrid vehicle gadget repair and alternative qualification to our training plans if you want to give us the extra capability to repair those systems.”

However, given the fantastically low wide variety of hybrid and electric motors inside the marketplace, a extra pressing issue for repairers is that round 55% of latest vehicles now have superior driving force help systems (ADAS), inclusive of self sustaining emergency braking, geared up as trendy.

These structures can use a mixture of cameras, lasers and radars, which make maintenance extra complex and expensive, in particular if recalibration is needed following an accident.

Fleet Assist head of community control Chris Crow said: “There is a few marketplace confusion around which ADAS-geared up motors self-calibrate following windscreen alternative and which require recalibration.

“Automotive glazing is turning into greater specialized through the technical nature of glass and lots of smaller businesses won’t have the skillset, the capability to teach body of workers or to make investments in the recalibration gadget.

“That is ensuing in a disconnect between glass fitment and the following technical requirement for ADAS recalibration.

“In turn, that lack of clarity might also lead to some fleets/drivers being harassed as to when and wherein a car should be recalibrated as a few automobile glazing repairers have the functionality to adopt the paintings, at the same time as others defer to franchised dealers. That may also bring about a capability postpone within the important paintings being undertaken as, yet again, lead instances have, in a few cases, improved.”

Developments in headlight era also are having an effect as they often need to get replaced in preference to repaired while broken.

Billyeald believes the increase in price because of producers transferring from halogen to xenon generation some years ago turned into “no longer unreasonable” however the current proliferation of LED era has made headlights “terrific pricey to update”, mainly whilst matrix headlights, which dynamically flow with the guidance, are used.

“They give you terrific visibility however, manifestly, there are plenty of shifting components and the charges are going up in step with that,” he said.

“We’ve seen big rate rises from £a hundred to a few thousand.”

This affords challenges for leasing organizations and their fleet clients.

Kit Wisdom, operations director at Tusker, informed delegates at the BVRLA Industry Outlook occasion: “The broken headlamp on the stop of agreement may be £1,000-plus. The consumer isn’t waiting for that because that’s now not what they’ve seen formerly and, as an enterprise, we want to be higher at communicating that.”

Jason King, managing director of Bayfield Vehicle Hire, brought: “Low stage harm can spiral out of control. Something as simple as a chip in a windscreen can boost to an £800 bill. We’re looking to apprehend ourselves why that is the case and then communicate that back to the client.”

But it’s now not just the era in automobiles making upkeep more hard and steeply-priced, it’s also the substances and becoming a member of techniques used by manufacturers as they try to make motors lighter to meet strict emissions guidelines.

Smart repairs can also be a contentious trouble. Car manufacturers, in Billyeald’s view, may be “unreasonable” about where clever repairs are done on a automobile fitted with sensors, which, once more, can boom restore fees.

“We will be challenging car producers on that,” he said.

Gibson delivered: “There are instances in which the vehicle manufacturers set limits on the type and regions of repair on bumpers to ensure safety structures keep to characteristic as supposed. This, once in a while, can cause debate among garages and insurers, and garages and clients, due to the accelerated price of getting to replace a component that could otherwise have been a repairable proposition.”

Overall, repair payments rose 5% to £three billion last yr, with the average repair invoice at £2,137, consistent with the cutting-edge information from the Association of British Insurers.

Costs are expected to boom similarly – the BVRLA Industry Outlook 2019 document predicts a mean repair bill of £2,500, although some say it could be better.

Tim Bailey, fleet director of Northgate Vehicle Hire, who worked in twist of fate management previous to joining Northgate in March last yr, stated he turned into already seeing average expenses of £2,500 and expected it might “grow even higher than that” this year. He additionally expects greater vehicle write-offs.

However, fleets have to take into account that, even as restore fees are growing, they need to see fewer crashes because of ADAS.

Billyeald said: “ADAS is all approximately preventing that crash or mitigating its effect so don’t just take a look at the value, take a look at the overall photo – the quantity of write-offs and frequency of claims in addition to the fee of them.”

Bayfield Vehicle Hire has already experienced the price and safety benefits of ADAS.

King said: “We had as soon as incident remaining 12 months in which one among our cars went into the lower back of an HGV. We concept the automobile could be written off, a total loss, and questioned how injured the passenger would be.

“But whilst we got in touch with the motive force the passenger turned into all proper and when we noticed the automobile it wasn’t too terrible. That become partly all the way down to the generation inside the vehicle, the pre-collision braking had kicked in and taken over that state of affairs. It may want to have without difficulty been a complete loss.”

BIK REDUCES WHEN CAR NOT AVAILABLE

Fleet managers need to maintain a near eye on what number of days a car is off the road for BIK tax.

HMRC regulations nation that if a vehicle is unavailable/off the street being repaired for a duration of as a minimum 30 consecutive days the chargeable advantage is reduced in percentage to the variety of days for the duration of the 12 months it became unavailable.

However, if the driver is in a courtesy automobile then BIK is charged as though their ordinary automobile changed into available without a reduction. The BIK charge can be adjusted in which the substitute vehicle is materially higher than the ordinary vehicle or the employee is provided with a better automobile underneath an association.

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