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ISSUE: 03/10
                                         n e w s

now and
 for the

Cover Article P2 Aluminium Panels for Cars   P6
Good Data is the Key to Success P12

now and
 for the
The refinish industry has in its time gone through many changes
which have been aimed at reducing solvent emissions and
increasing process efficiency: cellulose paint to medium solids
paint, medium solids paint to high solids paint and finally, high
solids to water based including the move from low efficiency
guns to HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) guns. Each time, the
UK has risen to the challenge of change and remains at the
                                                                                           Self-healing clear coats
forefront of the industry globally, with the likes of the US,                              Self-healing clear coats achieve the
Japan and Canada only recently changing over or in the process                             same as above but in a different way.
of changing to water based paint. In this article, I have identified                       As the name suggests, the external
some potential research subject areas.                                                     surface has the ability to heal itself.
                                                                                           The coating is slightly more resistant
Direct gloss paint                                                                         to scratches than normal clear coat
Direct gloss paint is now only used on a minority of vehicles, primarily light             but if scratches do occur in the clear
commercial vehicles. The use of direct gloss in car refinishing is now very rare,          coat, it will heal when exposed to
with two paint manufacturers no longer producing any direct gloss paint for                heat through sunlight. This will reflow
car refinishing. Thatcham still provides both times and material costs for direct          the coating and self heal to a degree.
gloss paint, but will look at not doing so in the future, with agreement from              Nissan is one manufacturer that uses
its stakeholders at the appropriate point.                                                 this technology. Here again, as with
                                                                                           he anti-scratch clear coats, Thatcham
Anti-scratch clear coats                                                                   will continue to review developments.
Anti-scratch clear coats resist the fine scratching that car washing introduces
to the paint surface and creates a holographic effect in sunlight. Some vehicle            One of the problems of both these
manufacturers, such as Mercedes, use ceramic clear coats in production to provide          technologies for the repairer is the
a durable finish. This finish is beneficial to the owner but leads to challenges for the   identification of its presence on the
repairer. During repair, for example, some panels are sectioned in replacement, such       vehicle. Some vehicle manufacturers’
as the body sides, as it is not cost effective to replace the whole panel. This creates    paint codes contain the information
the need to fade out the clear coat beyond the replaced section. The seamless              but others do not. If refinished with
transition is achieved by polishing the overspray from the fading edge. If this is not     standard clear coat in ignorance, the
possible, the repair clear coat will have to be extended to the nearest full panel         customer will not be able to notice
unless there is a suitable body feature at which to finish.                                until some time in the future when
                                                                                           the repaired area of the vehicle will
For example, rear quarter panel replacement might require the clear coating of             lose its lustre in comparison with the
both the roof and the opposite rear quarter, creating added material cost and time.        rest of the vehicle. Paint companies
Initially, this was reported as a problem but improvements in refinish products like       now have comparable aftermarket
ultra fine abrasives and polishes have reduced the problem. Thatcham will review           products to the OE (Original
the developments and are continuing to gather relevant information.                        Equipment) products for refinish.


AUTHOR: ANDREW WALKER, Repair Technologies Manager, Thatcham

                                                                              Painted or wrapped?                         This process is now spreading
                                                                                                                          to the aftermarket for private cars.
                                                                              Painted                                     The aftermarket film has a 3 to 5
                                                                              There are a number of paint                 year durability. Although it is often
                                                                              companies that produce systems/             stated that the DVLA does not
                                                                              processes for reproducing the matte         have to be informed as it is only
                                                                              and satin finishes on these vehicles.       a temporary surface, Thatcham
                                                                              There are two main refinish issues          strongly recommends that the
                                                                              here and they both relate to not            insured declares this modification
                                                                              being able to polish the finished           when insuring the vehicle. This
                                                                              surface. The first is the inability         is because of the added cost of
                                                                              to polish fading edges on section           removal of the film on adjacent
                                                                              repairs as mentioned above in the           panels for blending original
                                                                              clear coat section, leading to need         paintwork. Re-application post repair
                                                                              to apply the clear coat to the nearest      would not be covered in accident
                                                                              complete panel, increasing both             repair. Wrapping a medium sized
                                                                              materials and time costs. The second        family vehicle could cost in the
                                                                              is dirt inclusions during refinish.         region of £1,500.
                                                                              These are traditionally polished out,
                                                                              which means that the repairer will          Large area decals
                                                                              have to adopt the cleanest facilities/      Another popular area that seems
                                                                              processes possible to minimise              to be growing, which was started
                                                                              contamination.                              by the BMW Mini, is the
                                                                                                                          personalising of the exterior of the
                                                                              Another challenge in addition               car. In most cases, this is achieved
                                                                              to matching the colour with the             with large area decals, whether
                                                                              rest of the car would be matching           large stripes or flags on roofs. Fiat
                                                                              the degree of matte. Whilst this            has also followed this trend with the
                                                                              remains on limited editions of              Fiat 500. Other areas for large area
                                                                              high value vehicles, its impact will        decals are on the sports models
                                                                              be minimal as any repairs will              and on limited editions. In repair,
                                    Matte/Satin paint finishes                probably be carried out at franchised       these decals can be expensive
                                    It has recently been identified that      or specialist repair shops. It would        and require a high level of skill
                                    some vehicle manufacturers are            become a big issue for the refinish         to reinstate them after painting.
                                    offering matte/satin paint finishes       industry if the trend filtered down         Quite often, the repairer will
                                    on some of their limited edition          to the mass market models as a              outsource work to specialists
                                    models. These include Mercedes,           paint option. There could also              as they do for glass removal and
                                    Audi, Bentley and Ford. The               be implications for insurance group         replacement. Thatcham intends
                                    Mercedes model range, except for          rating, as there already is with            to carry out some preliminary fact
                                    the A, B and M Class, have designo        ChromaFlair .
                                                                                                                          finding prior to any research
                                    paint options of which some colours                                                   to ascertain any additional costs
Mercedes-Benz SL500 Night Edition                                                                                         of repair.
                                    are satin finish. They also have          Wrapped
                                    a special version of the SL500            The Ford Focus RS 500 is offered
                                    Night Edition in matte black. Bentley     in one colour, Panther Black. The           Summary
                                    released the Continental Super            bodyshell is painted traditionally          Thatcham will carry out initial
                                    Sports at the 2010 Geneva Motor           in Panther Black Metallic with a gloss      analysis on each of the research
                                    Show, with an £18,890 paint option        clear coat and then wrapped in a            areas mentioned above to evaluate
                                    of light grey satin or dark grey satin.   matte film. In repair, it will be painted   its impact on the cost of repair.
                                    Audi RS5 is likely to be available in     in the colour and then wrapped by           Research proposals will be drawn
                                    matte black. Ford Focus RS 500 is         3M at specialist centres. Thatcham          up as appropriate for possible
                                    offered in Panther Black.                 is awaiting information on this             inclusion into Thatcham’s research
                                                                              process from 3M.                            programme. Thatcham continues
                                    This matte finish can be achieved                                                     to monitor all aspects of vehicle
                                    in two ways: the first is basically       Wrapping vehicles started off               technical innovation and design
                                    putting matting agent in the clear        in the commercial vehicle world             trends with a view to identifying
                                    coat when painting the car, the           with full size advertising in contrast      any possible repair issues.
                                    second is similar to the first but        to traditional sign writing. There are
Mercedes-Benz CLS Grand Edition     is a complete process, shrink             specialists in this, providing colour
                                    wrapping the car in a vinyl coating       change wraps as well as printed,
                                    like some commercial vehicles.            pearl effect and chrome finishes.

                                                                                 Aluminium body structures                  selection of alloy agents to be
                                                                                 have become more common                    used, combined with the forming
                                                                                 than ever before, and yet                  process for each point of the vehicle
                                                                                 they still cause concern                   structure. The process of optimising

                                                                                 amongst both insurers and                  material selection is similar for steel
                                                                                                                            alloys, but the engineering is subtly
                                                                                 repairers. The short answer,
                                                                                                                            different. It would be a mistake to
                                                                                 to misquote Michael Winner                 mimic steel body construction with
                                                                                 is, “Calm down dear, it is                 aluminium in a price sensitive sector
                                                                                 possible to repair”. Apart                 – the Audi A2 did not reach high

                    panels for cars
                                                                                 from trite one-liners, the                 volumes, whilst competing head to
                                                                                 repair of aluminium structures             head with both the Mercedes-Benz
                                                                                 through to steel/aluminium                 A class (W168) as well as the
                                                                                 structures presents a number               Volkswagen Golf IV.
                                                                                 of options, with yet more
                    a symptom of diversification or something else?              to come as carbon tax begins               The reality is aluminium structures
                                                                                 to increasingly affect all.                can offer significant weight saving
                                                                                                                            for larger, more luxurious vehicles.
                                                                                 First up, the reasons. Aluminium           As the unit price increases and
                                                                                 is available in a wide variety             potential manufacturing volume
                                                                                 of alloys, as well as a huge range         decreases, so the opportunity
                                                                                 of processes. These include                to engineer a body with steel alloys
                                                                                 extrusion, stamping, casting, low          decreases. Essentially, as Audi A8
                                                                                 pressure die casting, high pressure        has shown over 4 generations
                                                                                 die casting and lost core casting          (the latest was introduced in Los
                                                                                 processes. Each offers a unique            Angeles as well as Beijing this year),
                                                                                 blend of investment / piece cost /         it is possible to get better component
                                                                                 process time and, most importantly,        integration with lower tooling
                                                                                 material properties. Whilst it is rare     investment as long as the business
                                                                                 to find a transmission casing that         case will stand higher component
                                                                                 is not made from aluminium alloy,          costs. So, do larger cars have
                                                                                 the raw material cost, combined            to be engineered from aluminium
                                                                                 with processes related to steel body       alloys? No, but it has become
                                                                                 manufacture can make it difficult          associated with the luxury sector
Audi A8 Bodyshell                                                                                                           in the same way as veneers and
                                                                                 to adapt to aluminium (spot welding
                                                                                   for example). Some processes             perfumed leather have. It is a sign
                                                                                          well adapted for aluminium        of the new automotive global market
                                                                                              are currently mostly          that China is one of the largest
                                                                                              alien to the automotive       markets for luxury vehicles – hence
                                                                                              manufacturing sector          the new A8 long wheel base global
                                                                                 (cold bonding, for example). This          launch in Beijing.
                                                                                    means the material has migrated
                                                                                                to higher value vehicles,   The thing that turns some of the
                                                                                                 with the exceptions (to    above on its head is CO2 . A larger
                                                                                                 date) of the Lotus Elise   vehicle will generically require more
                                                                                               / Exige /Europe / Evora,     power, and carry more features that
                                                                                              Audi A2 and the current       weigh more than a conventional
                                                                                              Audi TT steel/aluminium       mass market car such as Golf VI.
                                                                                  hybrid body structures.                   Features like twin AC systems, four
                                                                                                                            fully electrically adjustable seats,
                                                                                 Theoretically, aluminium alloys can        20 speaker sound systems, SatNav
                                                                                 offer better recyclability than steel      that has the ability to play BlueRay
                                                                                 (currently up to 50% of ‘new’ material     DVDs and so on – let alone air
                                                                                 can be from recycled sources, and          suspension or the ability to push
                                                                                 could rise further) which offsets          passengers into their seats as one
                                                                                 the greater energy input required          accelerates. However, the transient
                                                                                 to extract the metal from the ore          emissions are a huge issue – the
                                                                                 in comparison to ferrous materials.        luxury sector is not just above the
                                                                                 The engineering however, is the            average fleet CO2 – Cont. page 08


             AUTHOR: ANDREW MARSH, Advanced Data and Methods Manager, Thatcham

Cont. from page 07 - it is two             Much more commonplace is the                • Equipment: Similarly to the
to three times the level. That is why      application of aluminium for                training, just ‘having a go’ could
putting electric motors in line with       bonnets (pedestrian safety phase            produce superficial integrity, but
the engine to boost acceleration           1 & 2), doors and boot lids/tailgates.      not a robust repair. Once again, the
performance allows the vital CO2           Selective weight reduction conforms         investment is significant (bonding
measured during the standard               to the same process as used for             agents, rivet guns, welders) and
emission test to be reduced. In            larger structures. For example, for         so is a calculated business decision.
addition, if the vehicle mass can          the manufacturer, the effective cap
also be reduced, then the CO2 value        on CO2 may be more attractive for           Given there are fewer vehicles with
will fall again. Customers still get a     certain non load-bearing external           structural aluminium parts, there
large and imposing car that can also       panels – or even for those that have        are fewer repairers. So getting
accelerate quickly, but they will not      to be able to absorb a pre-                 a damaged vehicle to the repairer
pay too much over the odds for the         determined amount of energy (such           may require a longer journey than
privilege either.                          as a bonnet).                               for a steel alloys body repair.

Most vehicle manufacturers in the          Let us consider the vehicle once            So the conclusion?
large luxury vehicle segment are           it is in the hands of the owner. Firstly,   Repair of almost any material in any
reported as planning to switch to          who can repair aluminium? Well,             combination is possible provided the
aluminium structures sooner rather         PAS 125 gives detailed guidelines           methods are researched, training
than later – Audi, Jaguar and (soon)       about what is required in order to          is undertaken and the appropriate
Land Rover are already there. Why?         process aluminium panels. But there         equipment is used. There are no
Because it makes business sense            are also further aspects which need         generic solutions. Each vehicle has
not only for the manufacturer’s CO2        to be considered:                           a unique combination of joining
liability, but also for their customers.                                               techniques which must be respected
                                           • CO2 impact. It may well be more           to provide the correct repair integrity.
Considering all vehicles that have         efficient to repair a non-load bearing
been registered since 1999 (some           panel than to simply replace. This          For the future?
25 million cars), just over 300,000        is a stronger argument for steel            Any material in any combination
of them are made with aluminium            alloy parts than for aluminium alloy        is going to become more demanding.
structures – albeit most of those          parts, since the recyclability is better    Electric vehicles, for example, are
are made with both steel alloys            (less energy required). This will only      more likely than ever before to use
as well as aluminium alloys. However,      come into play once CO2 legislation         weight saving materials because the
as outlined earlier, this proportion       becomes more visible to the industry        investment in the battery will dwarf
is likely to rise with the £50,000         (i.e. taxation related to where and         almost all other considerations,
and above segment taking aluminium         how parts were made, as well                compared to current manufacturer
as the material of choice in the           as delivery to point of use).               material selection considerations.
name of better recyclability, as well                                                  For the repairer and the insurer, life
as possibly helping to offset CO2          • Training: The techniques used             is going to become very difficult
emissions. So, overall aluminium           to put together aluminium structural        without access to appropriate repair
is unlikely to become dominant -           parts into an aluminium alloy               data. ‘Have a go’ really will not work
even in hybrid construction - within       structure or a hybrid structure can         any more.
the next 10 years, but will have           be quite different from the norm.
a greater share of product (rising         Impossible? Certainly not, but a
to around 500,000 units).                  calculated business decision - yes.                                                    Audi A8 upper A-pillar to cant rail


More examples of aluminium in body structures:
Above: Jaguar X351 Side and overhead elevations   Right: Rolls-Royce Phantom aluminium body Audi R8 rear three quarter

               Good data
                          is the key to
               In today’s fast moving world with increasing reliance on
               electronic data exchange, it is imperative that businesses
               can count on having quality information to carry out
               business transactions. The motor insurance industry is no
               exception, with insurers, brokers and intermediaries using
               third party data, matched to their own data, to drive front
               end quotation systems.

               Thatcham, the Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre, administers
               the motor insurance group rating system on behalf of the ABI (Association
               of British Insurers) and the UK insurance industry. This is not simply
               a process of allocating insurance groups to all new vehicles. The main
               output from Thatcham’s Group Rating Department is an electronic list
               of all cars sold in the UK over the past 50 or so years along with their
               group ratings. This list provides the vehicle descriptions used by insurers
               on their customer’s certificate of motor insurance, which, in the vast
               majority of cases, is generated electronically.

               The insurance industry relies on this data being timely and correct,
               so that when a new car is purchased, the purchaser can obtain
               insurance with a certificate bearing the corresponding vehicle details
               before taking delivery of the car. Considering the various methods
               of obtaining insurance, via a broker, internet aggregator or direct to the
               insurer by internet /telephone, the process for ensuring that the correct
               vehicle details appear on the certificate, and therefore that the correct
               premium is charged, can be lengthy and complicated.


               AUTHOR: HOWARD BARRON, Group Rating Manager, Thatcham

So what is the process?                   vehicle called the MVRIS code,            new codes, perhaps to the wrong                  designed. In addition, any new process
This can be broken down into two          and then sends the description            vehicle or is unable to make a link              must be trialled to ensure that it is robust
areas: those insurers who use the         and a DVLA code and description           at all. In some cases, the vehicle               before making it live.
vehicle registration to ascertain         to DVLA. At about the same time,          manufacturer may forget to inform
the vehicle description (known            the manufacturer sends the vehicle        Thatcham of a new model (additional              The final piece of the jigsaw will be
as VRM lookup) and those who              details to Thatcham who allocate          transmission or body style), but                 working with the VRM lookup providers
rely on the customer to inform            an ABI code and description and           informs SMMT who then allocate                   to ensure that any new procedure
them of the description which             populate the insurers’ vehicle            a MVRIS and DVLA record, which                   actually works.
is then picked from a table using         database. Those companies who             the VRM companies then try to link
a search facility.                        provide a VRM lookup service will         to an ABI record.                                How long will this process take?
                                          then take the three sets of data                                                           The target set for implementing the new
• The method used by about                and link them together, which             Insurers who rely on the customer                process is to have finished by the end
70% of insurers is via a VRM              enables a registration number             providing the vehicle description                of 2010, which will resolve errors for new
(Vehicle Registration Mark) lookup        to be linked to an insurance system       are completely reliant on the                    vehicles coming to the market. However,
system. These systems return the          and therefore generate a premium          customer knowing what vehicle                    the errors that already exist within the
vehicle details from the Thatcham         quotation.                                they have, even down to the power                system will not be covered by the new
vehicle listings, more commonly                                                     output of the engine which will make             process and will take longer to resolve.
known as the ABI file, but to do this,    • About 30% of quotes use                 a difference in the insurance group
the descriptions must first be linked     the vehicle details taken directly        rating and final premium.                        The fallback for many insurers/brokers
to the DVLA vehicle description           from the ABI list, which has been                                                          is to use the old method of picking
file, and this is done by a third party   incorporated into a software package      What is being done to solve                      the vehicle from a list based on the
provider who will take both sets          by the insurer or third party and this    this problem?                                    description provided by the customer,
of data and try and link them by          relies on the customer providing the      In the case of VRM lookup, this has              which can also prove difficult. The way
vehicle description. The problem          correct description of their vehicle.     evolved from using historical data               forward, therefore, has to be a cost
is that each set of data is produced                                                from databases that were never                   effective and accurate VRM based
for a different purpose and provides      What can go wrong?                        designed to be linked together and               system which all insurers/brokers
a different level of information,         In the case of a VRM lookup system,       therefore the problem can only be                can rely on.
making it difficult to link the two       the errors that occur are mainly          resolved by the SMMT and Thatcham
sets of data with 100% accuracy.          down to the incorrect linking of the      working together to provide a joined             For further information on group rating
The Thatcham vehicle description          data sets. As mentioned above, the        up approach to the VRM lookup                    and the group ratings allocated, please
allows for up to 40 characters,           data sets are produced for different      providers.                                       visit and go to
whereas the DVLA description only         reasons and therefore a vehicle with                                                       Insurance Group Rating.
25. The description field contains        a change in CO2, which is relevant        In 2009, the SMMT, vehicle
the model and model trim, which           to taxation, would receive a new          manufacturers, ABI and Thatcham
can be anything up to 50 characters       DVLA code, but the same vehicle           recognised that there was a need         XXXXX
long including spaces between             may not receive a new ABI code,           to work closer together on this
words or numbers.                         as the change in CO2 is not relevant.     issue to eliminate the possibility
                                          There are other scenarios where           of the VRM systems returning the
The beginning of the process is           either Thatcham or SMMT will create       wrong data or no data against a
when a car manufacturer provides          a new vehicle description where the       registration number. This is a slow
the vehicle details to Thatcham and       other does not, and the VRM               process as the data sets must still be
the Society of Motor Manufacturers        provider will not know that this is the   produced in the format and for the
and Traders (SMMT). The SMMT              case and will therefore try and link      original purpose for which they were
allocates a unique code to each

research                    n e w s




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