SAN DIEGO - Audatex North America's spring 2010 industry trends publication, Audatex Directions, highlights a new industry niche: high-end collision repair.

The publication includes a profile of Auto Body Speed Shop (ABSS), a global collision repair chain that places sushi bars, cafes and bistros in many of its 18 worldwide locations. 

ABSS is also redefining what it means to "go green" in the U.S., relying upon wind spires and solar panels to drive down energy costs. The repair chain also uses innovative technologies -- including a custom-built, vehicle steam-cleaning platform -- to eliminate waste while improving overall quality and customer satisfaction, Audatex reported. 

The new issue of Audatex Directions also examines the business case for adopting lean practices in collision repair facilities to create more value for customers while minimizing waste. In addition, the publication reviews the trends that are projected to shape the U.S. property and casualty (P&C) insurance industry in 2010, including:

  • Total loss trends (in automotive repair) are forecast to continue above historical levels and may decrease slightly compared to 2009.
  • The trend of aging vehicles on the road is expected to continue, with owners taking a closer look at their auto coverage and adjusting their personal level of risk relative to the cost of optional coverage.
  • Miles traveled will likely continue to climb in 2010, increasing the probability of losses (both insurer and owner paid).  
  • Repairable appraisal values will likely rise in 2010 as total loss percentages improve slightly.  

"Even with early losses, insurers are seeing a return to profitability, evidenced by the data for the first nine months of 2009," said Mike Salfity, managing director of Audatex North America. "Although signs of economic recovery are emerging, the industry's challenges will continue. It's therefore important for repair shops of all sizes to stay on top of industry trends and adapt their strategies accordingly."