A new report suggests repair costs increased by £1,420 in 2003 over the previous year and compared with 10 years ago, costs have risen by 56%, suggests the Car Body Repair Market report, produced by automotive market analysts MFBI.
The report suggests that companies will increasingly be able to reduce the cost of damage repairs and avoid the high cost of replacement parts by utilising SMART repairs.
A spokesman said: 'Much of the damage incurred by fleet cars is relatively superficial, such as minor dents and scuffs that can be more cost-effectively repaired using SMART technology. Rather than having a damaged panel completely repainted, minor damage can be repaired using paintless repair methods or by painting only the damaged areas of a panel.
'This means a repair that would normally cost £600 in a bodyshop can be repaired for less than £300,' he added.
As reported on Fleet NewsNet last week, the report also shows a huge variation in repair costs between manufacturers. The company says its analysis shows that Subaru is the most expensive make to repair, with an average cost of £1,870, while Suzuki is the cheapest to repair with an average cost of £1,143. The MFBI says its repair cost analysis is based on a sample of more than 30,000 repairs invoiced by bodyshops in 2003.
A spokesman said: 'The principal cause of the increase has been the rising costs of replacement parts and paint.'
It found that replacement parts also account for the largest proportion of repair costs, at 49%, compared with labour costs accounting for 39%.
The spokesman added: 'Accident repair costs and the cost of replacement parts used is of particular importance to fleet companies as the cost of repairs will be a significant factor in determining whole-life costs.'
MFBI's analysis of average repair costs shows that the vehicle makes with the highest overall repair costs are Subaru, Jaguar, BMW Mitsubishi and Mercedes-Benz, while the least expensive makes to repair are Suzuki, Fiat, Ford, Hyundai and MINI.
The vehicle makes with the highest and lowest costs in terms of replacement parts are exactly the same except for Mercedes-Benz, which is not among the most expensive.