For fleet managers, replacement costs have increased as a result but the benefits for fleet drivers are clear to see and a ‘repair rather than replace’ policy can reap dividends in the long run.
The cost of automotive glass replacement has risen significantly in recent years and the use of enhanced glass is now common in standard models as well as their high-end counterparts.
Today’s large multi-functional windscreens often incorporate infra-red rain sensors, wire-heating or heat-coated screens, radiation reducing solar control, head-up displays and satellite navigation components.
In turn, installation costs are being pushed up by as much as 200% due to increased glass costs and the amount of time and skill it takes to fit a modern windscreen. More storage space is required for larger windscreen stock, new transport is required for delivering replacements and more training for technicians is needed.
With manufacturers continuing to innovate the design and functionality of automotive glass, fleet managers should therefore take time to understand the complexity of windscreen design and be aware of how important it is when choosing new car models for large fleets.
The numbers speak for themselves. In 1999, enhanced windscreen replacements comprised approximately one in 10 replacement jobs. By next year, this number is forecast to have risen to one in three. In addition, more glass is being used in car design than ever before. Today’s cars typically use 20% more glass than 20 years ago.
Many newer car models demonstrate radical increases in glass area, with the windscreen extending further back into the car’s roof, offering near-panoramic views.
The new Ford Focus windscreen is five kilograms heavier than that used in the original Ford Escort and newer designs tend towards a more pronounced curvature, both horizontally and vertically.
With more and more glass being used, fleet managers need to ensure that company insurance policies are adequate to cover the replacement of glass that is bigger and has a host of complex functions above and beyond protecting the occupants of a vehicle.
At Autoglass, special racking and shipping systems have been employed to store and transport modern windscreens due to their size and we often employ two technicians on some models to ensure safe installation.
Due to the increased cost of glass replacement, many fleet managers are turning to a ‘repair rather than replace’ philosophy to maximise cost savings. Chipped, rather than cracked, windscreens can often be repaired, without the need for a full replacement.
If they are left for a prolonged period of time, however, chips can deteriorate, creating the need for a full windscreen replacement. This typically takes at least two to three hours, while a repair can take as little as 20 minutes, helping to dramatically reduce unscheduled downtime.
Fleet managers who stay one step ahead, by ensuring attention is paid to chipped windscreens early enough, are therefore in a great position to balance the increased cost of enhanced glass replacement and reduce vehicle downtime simultaneously.
Taking the time to make sure regular checks are carried out and dealing with threatening chips when they arise, can prove a very smart move indeed in the age of the modern windscreen.
Enhanced glass replacement already accounts for half of all fleet claims. Introducing a policy focused on repairing rather than replacing automotive glass where possible, is therefore a smart move for fleet managers.