After a historic decline due to the pandemic, the paint and bodyshop industry is on the rise again. ”We can see a light at the end of the tunnel”, says Jan Olvenmo from MRF, Motorbranschens Riksförbund (Swedish Association for Motor Retail Trades and Repairs), which will be heavily involved at Automässan.
Paint and bodyshop issues have an important role during Automässan, the Nordic region’s largest meeting place for the automotive industry’s service and aftermarket, held at Svenska Mässan (The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre) between the18th and the 21st January 2023. On the day of opening an all-day conference has been organised, The Paint and Bodyshop Conference, followed by an awards ceremony with a gala dinner the same evening, coordinated with Auto Awards.
”We will be giving awards for the best repair workshop, best paint shop, best plastics workshop and to the winner of the insurance company survey” says Jan Olvenmo, paint and bodywork manager at MRF.
He states that the paint and bodywork industry is coming out of a tough period. Because the volume of traffic was lower due to people working from home and not using their cars, there were fewer road accidents and thus less damage. During 2020 the amount of damage recorded dropped by 11 percent.
”It’s remarkable, we have never had such a large drop. During 2021 we saw a recovery and in the last quarter things have made an upturn. Paint and bodywork workshops were worse affected than service workshops.
Recovery after downturn
”One explanation, besides reduced car travel, could be that car owners have been suffering financially, with furlough for example, and have waited to repair that dent.
At the end of 2021 the industry returned to levels similar to 2019. But the start of 2022 has still not been without its problems. Jan Olvenmo suspects that ”Rising energy prices, particularly in diesel and petrol seem to have had a damping effect on car travel”.
The rising gas and electricity prices are also having a negative effect on many workshops.
”Our industry is energy intensive, so it is a worrying time. Especially since the invasion of Ukraine and sanctions were brought in against Russia. Right now, we don’t know which way it is going”.
Damage volumes unaffected
The service industry’s big challenge is the conversion from fossil fuel powered vehicles to electric vehicles. But Jan Olvenmo thinks that the paint and bodywork segment will probably be less affected than the service workshops.
”We see that in Norway, which is ahead of us. Service workshops get less to do because electric cars have fewer moving parts, but the paint and bodywork segment will have at least as much to do as before. We see a clear opportunity for our industry, because the damage volumes seem to be at the same levels regardless of what the car is powered by. The challenge for the industry is in the future electrical infrastructure”, he states.
”I think that’s the greatest threat. A lot of electricity is needed to charge the cars. If you have a workshop somewhere where there is limited access to electricity, you may not be able to work there. Meaning that you will be forced to stick with your old technology.
”We also need to train personnel for increased digital expertise. For example, for access to vehicle data when the SERMI certifications are introduced”.
Energy and sustainability are key issues at Automässan
He is looking forward to rewarding discussions at Automässan, including how paint and bodyshop workshops can find smarter solutions.
”For example, painting processes with less energy consumption. Energy and sustainability are key issues that determine which path we take in the future. Repairing instead of replacing, that is the subject that I hope the exhibitors focus on. New materials are also exciting. We know that the use of carbon fibre will increase. How do we repair such cars in the future?”
- Motorbranschens Riksförbund is the Swedish Association for Motor Retail Trades and Repairs. There are 650 members within paint and bodywork. Find out more on the website.
- The Paint and Bodywork Conference is being held from the 18th January at Svenska Mässan. It is a recurring conference for the industry organised by Motormännens Riksförbund.
The Auto Trade Fair 2023 is arranged by FVU (The Association of Garage Equipment Suppliers) and SBF (Association of Swedish Car Parts Wholesalers ) in collaboration with MRF (The Swedish National Association for Motor Trades & Repairs), MAF (The Swedish Motor Trade Employers’ Association), DRF (Däckspecialisternas Riksförbund) and SFVF (Sveriges Fordonsverkstäders Förening).