EVs re­quire higher stan­dards of re­pair

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - NEWS -

NEW STAN­DARDS have been in­tro­duced by the coun­try’s largest body of pan­el­beat­ers to cope with in­creas­ing num­bers of EV’s, hy­brids and ve­hi­cles equipped with ad­vanced safety tech­nol­ogy on New Zealand roads.

CRA spokesper­son Neil Pritchard says the in­dus­try is mov­ing to stay ahead of the rapid evo­lu­tion in car man­u­fac­tur­ing which is in­creas­ing the com­plex­ity of ve­hi­cle re­pairs.

He says the lack of reg­u­la­tion in the col­li­sion re­pair mar­ket can cre­ate qual­ity con­trol is­sues for con­sumers and this sit­u­a­tion is get­ting worse with the in­tro­duc­tion of more cars equipped with ac­tive safety sys­tems and the in­creased use of ex­otic ma­te­ri­als in the ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ing process.

“With the in­crease of EVs, self- driv­ing tech­nol­ogy, and new types of con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als, ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ing has seen more ad­vance­ment over the last decade than over the past cen­tury.

“While EVs are touted as hav­ing a re­duced need for me­chan­i­cal ser­vic­ing, when it comes to col­li­sion re­pairs, there is a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in the risk and re­pair com­plex­ity to get them back on the road.”

He said the pace of this change is con­tin­u­ing to ac­cel­er­ate and more of these ve­hi­cles are hit­ting New Zealand roads each day.

“There are more than 7,200 EVs and hy­brids now reg­is­tered in this coun­try – a 958 per­cent in­crease from 680 ve­hi­cles just three years ago.”

Pritchard says EVs bring with them their own set of chal­lenges when dam­aged in an ac­ci­dent.

“Like all al­kali me­tals, lithium is highly re­ac­tive and flammable and the risk as­so­ci­ated with lithium-ion batteries found in EVs adds a high level of com­plex­ity to the re­pair process, in­clud­ing po­ten­tial elec­tro­cu­tion of the re­pairer. The el­e­vated risk of fire also pre­vents the ve­hi­cle from en­ter­ing a spray booth which means the pan­el­beater must in­tro­duce pro­cesses spe­cific to that type of ve­hi­cle to com­plete the re­pair.

“At the same time, many new mod­els en­ter­ing the mar­ket have ad­vance­ments in safety tech­nol­ogy which al­low the ve­hi­cle to proac­tively mit­i­gate or avoid col­li­sions.

“To ac­com­mo­date this change, we are bring­ing in new in­ter­na­tional, ser­vice qual­ity stan­dards to the in­dus­try which will see re­pair­ers com­mit to on­go­ing train­ing, equip­ment up­grades, an­nual in­spec­tions and au­dit pro­cesses be­fore they can be­come a Li­censed Col­li­sion Re­pairer in this mar­ket.”

Pritchard says mod­ern ve­hi­cles are now made from high strength steel, alu­minium and other ex­otic ma­te­ri­als which re­quire spe­cial train­ing and equip­ment for the re­pairer to repli­cate the fac­tory join when re­plac­ing struc­tural parts of the ve­hi­cle.

He says there is anec­do­tal ev­i­dence that the demand for front end re­place­ment parts for new cars has dropped away as the ve­hi­cle is able to au­to­mat­i­cally pre­vent this type of crash.

“Feed­back from our mem­ber­ship base sug­gested the na­ture and scope of ve­hi­cle crashes is be­gin­ning to change and will con­tinue to do so as more ad­vanced ve­hi­cles hit the New Zealand mar­ket over the com­ing years.

“Not only do new ve­hi­cles with col­li­sion mit­i­ga­tion tech­nol­ogy get into less front end crashes, but when they do have ac­ci­dents, the dam­age of­ten tends to be more cos­metic than struc­tural.

“De­spite this, these ve­hi­cles are be­com­ing in­creas­ing more com­plex to re­pair as the cars are now equipped with sen­sors, cam­eras and radar sys­tems – so what ap­pears to be a mi­nor ac­ci­dent from the ex­te­rior may have dam­aged the net­work of on­board tech­nol­ogy.

“Fur­ther ev­i­dence of how the in­dus­try is evolv­ing is the in­crease in the num­ber of smaller col­li­sion re­pair shops open­ing up that spe­cialise in re­pairs for more mi­nor dents. These shops con­cen­trate on some of the more sim­pler re­pairs rather than car­ry­ing the high cost of train­ing and equip­ment re­quired to man­age the more ad­vanced work,” he says.

Pritchard says ap­proved Col­li­sion Re­pair As­so­ci­a­tion mem­bers will carry dis­play ‘Li­censed Col­li­sion Re­pairer’ on their sig­nage.

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