While Future Challenges Loom, the Industry's Near-Term Look is Promising

Collision Repair

Among the sectors of the specialty-equipment market to have been impacted by advances in OE design and manufacturing technologies, few have been more dramatically affected than the collision-repair and refinish industry. Lighter-weight body panels, tri-coat paint applications and advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) have all become commonplace, if not mandated, on OE production platforms, and these advancements have posed fresh challenges to the market.

While advances in vehicle safety technologies have helped to make cars safer, collision repair and refinish remains a growth industry for the near term, with global revenues forecast to surpass $338 billion by 2028, with a 1.9% combined annual growth rate (CAGR), according to a 2023 survey from MarketWatch.

For this report, we contacted some dozen industry leaders. Their views follow, edited for clarity and length.

The State of the Industry

As with many industries, the collision and repair market took a hit in the early days of the COVID pandemic as vehicle miles traveled plummeted and millions of cars and trucks sat idle in their owners' garages. For the roughly 35,000 independent bodyshops in the United States, business declined by an estimated 10%–15% in 2020, according to a report from Collision Week. Exiting from the pandemic, supply-chain-related parts shortages made their presence felt in the shop, resulting in lengthier repair times.

Increased vehicle complexity has also impacted the sector. "Complexity is rising at an extraordinary rate, and that is forcing a lot of change in the industry," said Jack Rozint, senior vice president of sales and service, repair at Mitchell International. "The amount of equipment, training for technicians and just technology in general to fix the vehicles today has grown so much that the investment in the size of collision-
repair facilities is growing larger, and as a result, it's getting harder for the two- and three-man shop to survive and specialize in today's industry."

Aaron Schulenburg, executive director for the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS), agrees on the increased need for technical data. "Collision repairers are often some of the first repair entities to interact with newly released models, sometimes just weeks after a new model's release," he notes. "The key to providing appropriate service to the customer is based on the ability to access necessary information to diagnose and repair a vehicle, and access to training and tooling."

In addition, "there are a lot of safety requirements right now that the industry is not necessarily educated on because we're getting too much pushback from the insurance carriers regarding pay for the actual estimate," added Alex Torres, regional manager for Alldata, "so what we do for the industry is to keep our partners educated."

Still, some of our industry experts see opportunities for near-term growth. "We plan to more than double our U.S. footprint this year and expand our partnerships with several of our industry partners," said Scott Bridges, senior vice president for Fix Network.

Challenges: ADAS and Electrification

Advances in OE safety technologies, though, present multiple challenges. For one, the proliferation of onboard cameras and sensors, and the time needed to install and test them, result in cost increases ranging between 2% and 3% annually, according to CCC Information Services. Additionally, industry members must acquire new technical skills, which requires extensive employee retraining. Finally, as safety technologies—particularly
self-driving AI systems—become more
foolproof, the number of collision repairs is expected to decline over time; the CCC Information Services report forecasts a decline of as much as 35% by 2050.

For the near term, however, repair shops of all types will keep busy, if for no other reason than to install replacement catalytic converters for unlucky motorists. According to recent data from Carfax, thieves stole the emissions-control devices from more than 150,000 vehicles—including vehicles located on dealer lots—in 2022. That's more than 400 a day nationwide. And looking at the big picture, market productivity remains robust. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry set a new year-over-year production record in 2022, with repair industry employment up nearly 5% and production employment up nearly 10%.

"Five years ago, people were saying that ADAS was going to cut accident severity and frequency so much that the collision industry is going to be dead in a few years," noted Rozint. "Of course, that hasn't happened. The industry is making more money this year than it ever has."

Rozint admits, however, that "a point in the future is coming when enough vehicles on the road will have ADAS equipment, and this will significantly bring down the number of collisions and industry revenue will top off. But given the fact that people are holding onto their used (non-ADAS-equipped) vehicles for longer periods of time, "that inflection point is still at least five years out."

While the proliferation of ADAS should reduce the number and severity of future accidents, it won't necessarily drive down the costs of collision repair. "It's increasing the cost to repair the vehicle," Rozint notes, "because the front bumper now has sensors, LIDAR, cameras and other equipment that needs to be fixed and recalibrated."

ADAS has also highlighted the necessity for companies to expand their educational outreach. "The ongoing evolution of ADAS brings a growing need for repair shops to recognize the opportunity of offering reset functions and calibrations," said Bridges. "The days of just turning a wrench are gone."

As mentioned earlier, increased repair costs can cause friction with insurers, which can lead to friction with repair shops. "As insurers focus on shareholder value, they are seeking any and all methods to reduce their costs, and collision-repair facilities bear the brunt of this," said Darryl Simmons, publisher of Collision Repair Magazine. "In addition, collision-repair facilities have to train staff and equip shops to meet the myriad of OEM requirements for safe and proper repairs."

Electrification also poses potential challenges.

"Apart from the obvious fact that an EV can kill you if you don't properly disconnect and disable the electrical systems before you get working on it, it's a completely different animal in terms of repair," Rozint explains. "The platform itself is different. There is a lot more structural componentry that is designed to reduce the weight of the vehicle. That requires special repair techniques as well—everything from personal protective equipment to gloves to the repair process itself. It's very different."

Still, Torres adds, "growth for the industry going forward is going to be on the electrical side with EVs."

Another change impacting the industry has been the spread of OE certification programs, which can provide added resources to independent facilities.

"The collision-repair industry is actually quite varied and competitive," Schulenburg says. "Collision-repair businesses have opportunities to participate in a variety of networks. including certified collision-
repair networks offered by automakers and Direct Repair Program networks offered by insurance companies.

"The vehicle and our relationship to it has changed," Schulenburg adds, "but it has also presented us with an opportunity to distinguish our businesses within the community and to our customer."

"The good thing is that you can't legislate stupidity out of existence," Simmons concludes, "so as long as there are shopping carts in malls, drivers who ignore warnings and trees that fall on cars, the collision-repair industry will be viable."


As of August 15, 2023

Accudraft Paint Booths 33071

Accuvision-3D, Accuweld 12243

Airgas Inc. 31209

AirPro Diagnostics LLC 31229

A.J. Dralle Inc. 35064

All Clear Diagnostics and Calibration 12559

ALLDATA/AutoZone 31087

All Good (China) Ltd. 34211

Anest Iwata Americas inc. 31035

Anest Iwata Sparmax Co. Ltd. 12321

Apollo Sprayers International Inc. 34159

Astro Pneumatic Tool Co. 32087

Autobody News 35028


BETAG North America 31219

BHG Import Export Inc. 32097

Big-Ben (Paints) Co. Ltd. 12117

Blair Equipment Co. 34027

Blowtherm USA 33123

Blue Vista Data Systems 11652

Bodyshop Business 35062

Bolt Buster 35116

Bonding Solutions 32107

Bosna Industrial Corp. 11345

Bossauto Innova 34240

BSG Auto Glass Co. Ltd. 12723


Car ADAS Solutions 33245

Car Bench International S.p.A. 32117

Car-O-Liner 32017 34149

Car-Rep Automotive 34229


CCC Intelligent Solutions 31077

Cebotech Inc. 33087

Celette Inc. 31101

Challenger Lifts 32017

Colad 34113

Collision Repair Magazine 34233

Concept Chemicals & Coatings Ltd. 51271

Crown Polymers 12871

Custom Paints Inc. 32197

Custom Upfits 31193

Deerfos America Inc. 33195

Delta Kits 34037

Dent Fix Equipment 33173

DeVilbiss Automotive Refinishing 35244


Disco Automotive Hardware 33191

DJS Fabrications 32173

Dominion Sure Seal Ltd. 35144

Dongguan King Abrasives Co. Ltd. 12717


Eagle Abrasives Inc. 33131

Ecotechnics 32017

Enoch Automotive Technology 11449

Equalizer 32185

Eurovac Inc. 34067


EZ Universal Wheels 35210

Fillon Technologies 34237 32179


Fuji Spray Auto 34199

Garmat 32077

Gema USA Inc. 34051

Glass Mechanix 11624

Global Finishing Solutions 31067

Goliath Carts 31111

GripFX 13177

Guangzhou Sun Holy Wind Air Cleaning Products Co. Ltd. 34189

Guangzhou Wonder Coating Technology 35178

Guangzhou Yakoo Chemical Co. Ltd. 12227

GYS 34171

Haldon Co. 34041

H&S Autoshot 33115

Hanspray 32239

Hedson Technologies 35036

Herkules Equipment Corp. 13162

Hobart Institute of Welding Technology 12862

Hofmann 32017

hyStik Adhesive Tapes 32133

I-CAR 33139


Induction Innovations Inc. 33161

Infratech 34055

Innovative Tools & Technologies 33097

International Epoxies & Sealers 34145

Island Clean Air 12383

JBF Auto Supply Inc. 32245

John Bean 32017

Josam 32017

JTAPE 35186

Kapci Coatings 33207

KECO Body Repair Products 32201

Kent Automotive 12740

Kolor System Co. Ltd. 11565

LDPI Inc. 34065

Lenco Holdings LLC 11331

Lianyungang Orientcraft Abrasives Co. Ltd. 35234

Lift King Products 31235

LM Gerson Co 11327

Loctite-Teroson 35158

Martech Services Co. 35054

Martin Tool 34061

Medallion Refinish System 13048

Megine Group Malaysia 12744

MG Spray Gun/Euro Spray Gun 34103

Millner-Haufen Tool Co. 34235

Mirka USA 33237

Mitchell1 32017

Mitchell, An Enlyte Co. 32101

Mobile Environmental Solutions LLC 33219

Mo-Clamp 35090

Monument Tools Inc. 35066

Motor Guard Corp. 35030

M-tek Spray Booths 31243

MWM SRL 35240

National Calibration and Diagnostic Solutions, Pro Mobile Scan, ADAS Targeting Solutions 12327

Nexera 34183

Nicolosi Imports 35154

Nordson Corp. 12759

Nova Verta USA 32139

OEC 12217

1Shot/AUTOAURA 35086

1SourceADAS 11561

Onwings Paint Technologies 32223

Opus IVS 31131

Original One Parts 13063

Oslong USA 32217

PACO Corp., Automotives Abrasives Professional 34245

Paint and Coatings Factory JSC 34255

Panther Pro Tools 12882

ParrWash Inc. 12774

PartsTrader LLC 33201

PBE Coatings Corp. 33252

PDR-Team 11569

Polymix Bonding Solutions 34259

Polyvance 34087

Preval 34043

ProColor Collision 32255

Pro-Cut International 32017

Prona Tools 35046

PRO SPOT 32049


Qingdao Aosheng Plastic Co. Ltd. 13151

Qingdao New Oriental Car Accessories Co. Ltd. 13149

Reflex Truck Liners 34017

Reliable Automotive Equipment Inc. 31121

Renegade Products USA 35040

Repairify 34193

Revv ADAS 11529

RGISprayBooths.Net 32229

Roberlo 33229

RTi-Reading Technologies Inc. 32071

Sagola by Elcometer/Elcometer 34073


SANTINT USA Inc. 34219


Scangrip 33077

SCC Auto Refinish 33213

Sedgwick 35182

Seymour of Sycamore Inc. 33107

Shaoxing Huanxin Import Export Co. Ltd. 13147

ShineMate Auto Polishing Tool System 35050

Shoot Suit 35060

Shurtape Technologies 12371

sia Abrasives Inc. USA 33185

Snap-on 32017

Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) 31147

SOCUR Inc. 12177

Solera 32138

SOLIDUS Equipment Systems 31201

SOLL 35228

Spanesi Americas Inc. 34133


SprayMax 34091

SprayTech Junair 34039

Starcke Abrasives USA Inc. 12248

SummitCRS 34151

Sun 32017

Sunmight Abrasives 33063

Superpads 12868

Taizhou Tool-Bar Machinery Co. Ltd. 35112

TCI Products 34241

3M Automotive Aftermarket Division 30020

Top Shop Marketing 35238

Transtar Autobody Technologies Inc. 34123

Troton Sp. z o.o. 34109

Uni-ram Corp. 33091

US Auto Supply (formerly Collision Services) 31173

USI of North America Inc. 34097

Vibac 31255

Vintage Pro/FBS Distribution/Cumberland Products 31047

Wheel Restore USA 33255

Wizards Products 34029

W.M. Barr & Co. 34223

Woodward-Fab 35022

YATU Advanced Materials Co. Ltd. 32209

Yongkang Baoda Tools Manufacture Co. Ltd. 12821

Zibo Sankyo Rikagaku Co. Ltd. 35232