As the UK’s only network of nationwide vehicle recyclers, e2e is in a unique position to reflect on the findings of the 2022 ABP Report on the State of the UK Body Repair Industry in relation to reclaimed parts. Our members collectively hold the largest inventory of quality-graded, warranty-assured, original reclaimed parts stocks in the UK, standing at over 5 million, and all members are accredited to the VRA UK Standard for Reclaimed Parts.
It is encouraging to see that the report states that a record 79% of bodyshops that responded are now using reclaimed parts and that 74% had increased their usage in 2022. Interestingly, the ratio of reclaimed parts as a percentage of overall parts volumes has decreased slightly, with 15% reporting 10% or more in 2022 compared to 17% in 2021. This is surprising when parts shortages are affecting such a high proportion of bodyshop jobs, but perhaps less so when you see that 60% of respondents are using more non-OE parts than in 2021 as a result of parts availability issues.
It would be interesting to scrutinize the drivers and perceived advantages of using non-OE parts compared to original reclaimed parts. Is it because bodyshops are struggling to identify and source original reclaimed parts? Currently, unquestionably, the supply chain is fractured, and there is no centralised view of reclaimed parts availability. Bodyshops typically have to visit multiple providers to fulfil their bill of materials, which is time-consuming and resource-hungry. The opportunity to better service and join up the supply chain is an ongoing discussion which will be taken forward at the next meeting of the Reclaimed Parts Cross Industry Working Group. This group was founded by e2e in 2022, and its second meeting will take place in the new year, facilitated by e2e and including representatives from ABP, ILC, NBRA, and VRA.
In parallel, 60% of respondents equally reported using more reclaimed parts than last year, as a result of parts availability issues. There are those that may say the boom in demand for reclaimed parts will be short-lived, and once new parts become readily available, demand for reclaimed parts will fall away. Our network members take the opposite view. Their confidence in the future of the market can be measured in the investment taking place within their businesses, to include facilities, logistics, technology and people. They firmly believe that the parts availability issues threatening the motor repair supply chain represent opportunity to either introduce or further reinforce reclaimed parts as an ongoing, credible part of the solution for bodyshops. Furthermore, the average age of vehicles on the roads continues to increase, as evidenced by the fact that 74% of bodyshops use reclaimed parts when the new part is no longer available. With manufacturers ceasing to make combustion engines in 2030 and the cost-of-living crisis resulting in more people holding on to their cars for longer; this looks set to be a growing trend. Add to this increased scrutiny on ESG compliance across the motor supply chain, and the carbon reduction benefits of reclaimed parts will add to the attraction of the proposition as a sustainable solution.
It is curious to see 44% of bodyshops citing policyholder resistance as a reason for not using or not increasing their use of reclaimed parts. This contradicts the insights gained at a recent webinar hosted by e2e, which featured bodyshop and insurer representation. Insurers were clear that, in the main, policyholders were open to the use of reclaimed parts, particularly if it expedited the repair process. At the time, there were discussions as to where the responsibility lay to educate the consumer on the practical and environmental benefits of reclaimed parts and suggestions that including reference to their use in policy cover documents was advisable.
Of more concern is the 61% of respondents who reported that inconsistent quality was a cause of them not using or not increasing their use of reclaimed parts. The VRA UK Standard for Reclaimed Parts was introduced to ensure quality consistency. Vehicle recyclers accredited to the UK Standard are audited annually and required to quality grade, and warranty assure their reclaimed parts. All e2e members are accredited to the UK Standard, and reclaimed parts provided by e2e’s network have an extremely low (<2%) return rate. More needs to be done to understand the quality consistency issues reported, and this will also be tabled for the working party meeting in the new year.
Jim Loughran, CEO of e2e Total Loss Vehicle Management, comments:
“This is a great piece of research by ABP, and we thank them for their efforts and for the insight it grants. We mustn’t shy away from addressing the very real challenges that the supply chain and consumer have with regards to the usage of reclaimed parts. At e2e, we are already working on solutions that will address many of the issues highlighted in the report. Reclaimed parts have to become a sustainable resource pool for the whole repair sector, it just makes sense! Not just for bodyshops, insurance companies and salvage suppliers, but for the planet as a whole!”
*2022 ABP Report on the State of the UK Body Repair Industry
Only repairers are permitted to take part in the annual online survey, which is conducted by ABP Club and began in 2011. The 2022 survey saw responses from over 264 repair businesses representing over 600 bodyshop sites.